Unclaimed property scam imitates state, asks for fees

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INDIANAPOLIS (Press Release): Attorney General Curtis Hill recommends that Hoosiers take care to verify the legitimacy of offers that claim you may have unclaimed property held by the state. The National Association for Unclaimed Property Administrators (NAUPA) has identified a number of unclaimed property scams across the United States, including reports of scams in Indiana.

As the Office of the Indiana Attorney General revs up its efforts to educate Hoosiers about Indiana Unclaimed and encourage them to search for unclaimed property, it is important to be aware of potential scams that exist to defraud claimants.

Scammers send legitimate-looking letters or emails and make professional-sounding phone calls. They claim there are hundreds of dollars in unclaimed property under your name. However, these letters ask for your personal information and your credit card number as payment for finding a property that doesn’t exist.

Unclaimed property is cash or other financial assets belonging to individuals or businesses — such as payroll refunds; security and savings accounts; insurance payments; and death benefits. When businesses fail to find the owners of accounts, perhaps because of a move or name change, they are required after a certain period of time to turn over that unclaimed money to the state. The state then holds the unclaimed property as efforts are made to return it to rightful owners.

In 2016, Indiana returned around $66 million. As of June 2017, the state was in possession of some $466 million in unclaimed property. The state has returned 51,881 claims so far this year, amounting to more than $28 million returned to Hoosiers. The average amount of a claim is $544.4 in assets.

Hoosiers’ property is safe with the state, said Lindsey Mayes, Director of the Attorney General’s Unclaimed Property Division.

“Most important for a claimant to remember is that the purpose of Unclaimed Property is to reunite the property with its rightful owner, and our division does this free of charge,” Mayes said.

An offer by phone, email or letter of large sums of money in unclaimed property in your name is appealing. One scam is reported to have suggested $450,000 in unclaimed property was available. However, it is important to scrutinize the legitimacy of these offers. The Unclaimed Property Division has investigators who actively search for owners of unclaimed property so it is possible that you could be contacted by the state. If, however, you are contacted in the name of the state and asked for a credit card number or other payment to receive your property, know that it is a scam.

“Never, under any circumstances, should anyone pay for anything related to unclaimed property over the phone,” Mayes said.

If you are unsure of a contact’s legitimacy, you can check by searching your name at IndianaUnclaimed.com. You can also contact Indiana’s Unclaimed Property Division by submitting a question online or by calling 866-IN-CLAIM.


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