What is Unclaimed Property?
Unclaimed property is any financial asset that has been left with a “holder,” such as a bank, insurance company or other business or organization, without activity or contact for a period of three years.
The most common types of unclaimed property are savings or checking accounts, stocks, dividends, checks that have not been cashed, certificates of deposit, unclaimed insurance benefits, expired gift certificates, and items abandoned in safe deposit boxes and held in police department stolen-property files. By law, at the end of the three-year period, holders must transfer abandoned property to the Treasury Department.
You may have unclaimed property if:
- You were named as a beneficiary on a life insurance policy.
- You opened a savings account and forgot about it or your account went inactive because you did not make deposits or withdrawals for a period of time.
- You moved, forgot to change your address at the post office, and had money coming to you.
- You left your job to start a new one, and never received your final paycheck.
- You forgot to redeem a gift certificate and it expired.
What does the Treasury Department do with unclaimed property?
The Treasury Department maintains custody of unclaimed property until it is claimed by the rightful owner. There is no time limit to claim your property. After you prove ownership, your property will be returned to you without charge.
How can I prevent my property from becoming unclaimed?
- Keep accurate records of bank accounts, stocks, safe deposit boxes, life insurance policies and other financial matters.
- Correspond with all financial institutions holding savings, checking, IRA, certificate of deposit and all other accounts at least once every three years.
- Cash all checks for dividends, insurance benefits and wages. If you stop receiving dividends, contact the company that issues the dividends.
- Notify a family member or trusted adviser of the location of your financial records.
- Prepare a checklist of all financial assets in order to notify all concerned parties if you change your address.
Each year, Treasury receives millions of dollars in unclaimed property – things like abandoned bank accounts, forgotten stocks, uncashed checks, certificates of deposit, life insurance policies, safe deposit box contents, and recovered stolen property. Treasury maintains custody of this property and works to return it to its rightful owners.
Treasurer McCord and his staff currently seek the owners of over $1.9 billion in unclaimed property. In 2012, Treasury returned about $100 million to the rightful owners. We want to help you put your money back in your wallet.
Finding Unclaimed Property
Approximately one in ten Pennsylvanians have unclaimed property – do you? Search your name and the names of your friends and family in the Unclaimed Property database or call 1-800-222-2046.
For more information about how the Treasury handles unclaimed property, check out the Unclaimed Property Frequently Asked Questions.
If someone offers to help you locate unclaimed money for a fee:
Call the Treasury Department at 1-800-222-2046 before you do anything! Signing an agreement to have someone assist you in recovering unclaimed money may entail the payment of fees. Before signing any agreement, check with our office first. Our staff will assist you in recovering your property free of charge.
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN TO YOU?
If you do not keep your accounts active (make a deposit or withdrawal once a year or within every 3 year period), your money will be considered abandoned and it will be sent to the state unclaimed property division as required by law. If you make a deposit or withdrawal at least once a year, then your account will stay active and your money will remain in your accounts at the credit union.
READ THE NEW LAW:
Changes Important to Holders of Unclaimed Property
Recent changes to Pennsylvania’s Unclaimed Property Act impact several aspects of unclaimed property reporting, including a reduced dormancy period, newly added and expanded definitions of key terms related to unclaimed property, and an expansion of audit and enforcement provisions (including penalties).
► Abandoned and unclaimed property state of repose (or dormancy) changes from five (5) to three (3) years.
Under the previous version of the Act, property was presumed abandoned or unclaimed if the owner had not taken specific action regarding his or her property within the previous five (5) years.
Effective immediately, the Act changes that time period to three (3) years for each of the following property types:
• Savings or time deposits in a financial institution or shares in a savings association or savings and loan or building and loan association. 72 P.S. § 1301.3(1).
• Outstanding checks or drafts. 72 P.S. § 1301.3(3).
• Contents removed from a safe deposit box or other safekeeping repository. 72 P.S. § 1301.3(4).
• Moneys due from an insurer under an annuity contract, life insurance policy, or any other contract of insurance. 72 P.S. § 1301.4.
• Utility advances, tolls, deposits, or collateral security. 72 P.S. § 1301.5.
• Gift certificates or gift cards (if no redemption period is specified). 72 P.S. § 1301.6(1).
• Stock certificates or rights to participate in a business association. 72 P.S. §1301.6(2).
• Dividends, profits, distributions, payments, or distributive shares of principal owed by business associations. 72 P.S. § 1301.6(3).
• Principal or interest due on business associations’ bonds or debentures. 72 P.S. § 1301.6(4).
• Property held in fiduciary capacity for the benefit of another. 72 P.S. § 1301.8.
• Property, including restitution, held for owners by courts, public corporations, public authorities, or instrumentalities of the U.S., states, or political subdivisions. 72 P.S. § 1301.9.