Commerce Department returns $19 million to Minnesota consumers in 2012
August 07, 2012
For Immediate Release
ST. PAUL, MN – Sometimes money goes missing due to a change of address or a death in the family. That’s when the Minnesota Department of Commerce steps in to help Minnesotans find and claim what is rightfully theirs. This year alone the Commerce Department reunited 7,200 Minnesotans with $19 million in missing bank accounts, life insurance policies, safe deposit boxes, unclaimed paychecks, and other real property and financial assets – a 13 percent improvement over 2011.
“Since 2005, the Department has helped more than 84,000 Minnesotans find $163 million that may otherwise have gone missing indefinitely,” said Commissioner Mike Rothman, whose Department oversees the state’s Unclaimed Property Program. “We estimate that one out of every twenty Minnesotans has at least $100 currently being held by the State of Minnesota. Our message to Minnesota consumers is simple: this could be your money, come and claim it.”
Lakeville resident Rick Masloski is one of thousands of Minnesota consumers who benefitted from the state’s unclaimed property program this year. Masloski’s father passed away 19 years ago, and left him with more than $1,300 in unclaimed stock shares that Rick was searching for but could not find. With the assistance of Commerce staff, Masloski was able to find, claim, and cash out the shares, which were rightfully his.
“If it had not been for the Minnesota Department of Commerce, I don’t think I would have ever found these stock shares,” said Masloski, who was one consumer among many whose stock shares were mislabeled and difficult to find. “I would encourage anyone to take a few moments, check the website, and ask for assistance. I found the people at the Commerce Department to be extremely helpful and very pleasant to work with.”
Looking for unclaimed property just got easier. The Commerce Department has dramatically improved its website so that Minnesota consumers can more easily understand the program and quickly search for the names of themselves and their loved ones to determine if they have any unclaimed property being held by the State of Minnesota.
Additionally, the Department announced this week the rollout of a “FastTrack” system that will expedite the process for consumers with smaller claims. Minnesota’s online look-up functions on MissingMoney.com have been enhanced to include behind-the-scene validation tools for certain claims which will substantially reduce the time it takes to return unclaimed property to Minnesota consumers.
“Minnesota is one of ten states in the nation that is taking advantage of this time-saving, efficient technology,” said Commissioner Rothman. “ We expect that up to 72 percent of all outstanding claims may be resolved more quickly by using this new software enhancement – and the time we save on these smaller claims will help our staff more efficiently meet the needs of other Minnesota consumers.”
Where does unclaimed property come from?
When a financial asset or real property appears to be abandoned, state law requires life insurance companies, banks, and corporations to try contacting the owner of the property. If the owner fails to respond, the property is deemed abandoned and the holder must include the property in its annual unclaimed property report to the Department of Commerce.
How much do financial institutions turn over to the Department?
In 2012, financial institutions turned over $61 million in financial assets to the Commerce Department. That’s a $4.5 million increase over the previous year, thanks in large part to Commissioner Rothman’s efforts to ramp up the Department’s audit team. Four new staff members, approved by the legislature in 2011, have been brought on to help ensure financial institutions are complying with the state’s unclaimed property laws.
How can I search for my unclaimed property?
The Minnesota Department of Commerce has updated its website to make it easier for Minnesotans to search for unclaimed property. Consumers can quickly type in their names, or the names of their loved ones, to complete a fast search of the nationwide MissingMoney.com database. Consumers who have questions or need assistance can contact the Unclaimed Property Unit by phone at (800) 925-5668 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.