CHARLESTON – State Treasurer John Perdue’s unclaimed property division returned $1 million to rightful owners in the month of July, after reporting $9 million in returned funds during the entire fiscal year of 2015.
The $9 million in fiscal 2015, in turn, eclipsed fiscal 2014’s final numbers by $2 million. Treasurer Perdue said he was delighted the program got off to such a smashing start for fiscal 2016, which began July 1.
“Obviously we’re pleased,” Perdue said. “These funds do not belong to the state; they belong to rightful owners who have become separated from them. It’s our job to find them and we did a pretty good job of it in July. We’ll try to match that success in the succeeding months.”
July numbers show a continued move to electronic claims but the biggest dollar amounts are still tied to traditional paper claims. Many of these paper claims are spawned by twice-a-year newspaper inserts, which contain a paper claim form for those who find their name contained in the publication.
The office processed 300 e-claims and 191 on paper yet paper claims accounted for a little more than 60 percent of the month’s dollar amount at $615,000. Electronic claims checked in at $144,000. All amounts are rounded to the nearest thousand.
The difference in dollar amounts attests to the different natures of the claims processes. Electronic claims are best suited to small amounts filed by a single individual; larger dollar amount claims gradually get put in the paper claims category because they often involve estates and require paper documentation such as a probated will and a death certificate.
Treasurer’s Office field representatives generated $229,000 in claims, with a small but growing figure generated by letters notifying owners of lost assets. Those letters make use of a database containing updated addresses of rightful owners.
Recent media coverage has also boosted the profile of the unclaimed property program, the Treasurer said.
“We’re thankful for whatever help we can get,” he said. ”We want to return this money to as many people as possible.”
Unclaimed property has nothing to do with land or real estate. It refers only to misplaced, lost or forgotten financial assets, such as a left-behind utility deposit or paycheck or an abandoned safe deposit box. Those safe deposit box contents are frequently auctioned online at www.WestVirginiaUnclaimedProperty.org.