5/16/2017 9:11:54 AM
SAINT PAUL – Minnesota Commerce Commissioner Mike Rothman is warning Minnesotans to be on guard against fraudulent phone calls, emails and letters offering unclaimed property that belongs to them.
These scammers typically ask for an upfront payment or personal information. They then take the money and run, while personal information may be used for identity theft.
“These communications may look or sound official, so it’s important to be vigilant,” said Rothman, whose agency administers the State of Minnesota’s unclaimed property program. “It’s natural for people to be excited if someone offers money that supposedly belongs to them. But for self-protection, never pay in advance or provide personal information. Ask for details about the unclaimed property and, more importantly, check with the Commerce Department.”
Unclaimed property includes forgotten bank accounts, stocks and bonds, insurance benefits, safe deposit box contents, utility or rent deposits and uncashed paychecks.
If the owner of an account or asset cannot be located after a certain period of time, businesses are required to turn the funds over to the state’s unclaimed property program for indefinite safekeeping until claimed by the rightful owner or heirs.
The Commerce Department maintains an online database of unclaimed property in Minnesota. Searching the database is easy, and a claim can be filed free of charge.
In 2015-2016 fiscal year, the Commerce Department’s unclaimed property program returned nearly $50 million in missing money to over 30,000 Minnesotans, both all-time record high figures.
Because of more public awareness about the availability of unclaimed property, scammers are exploiting it as an opportunity to cheat people with false promises. They demand upfront payments or personal information, using high-pressure tactics such as insisting there is a deadline to claim the money. Once the scammers get what they want, they are never heard from again.
Commerce is here to help
If you have a question about unclaimed property, contact the Commerce Department’s Unclaimed Property Program by email at email@example.com or by phone at 651-539-1545.
Director of Communications
Minnesota Department of Commerce
P: 651-539-1463 | C: 651-368-5050 | firstname.lastname@example.org