By William E. Lewis Jr. For EyesOnNews.com, Mar. 26, 2015 – Floridians are turning to the Internet in search of unclaimed property and you are just a mouse click away from learning if the state has lost treasure in your name. Seeking to return property to their rightful owners, Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater recently announced that his office holds unclaimed property accounts valued at more than $1 billion.
With over $36 billion in unclaimed funds nationwide, among the most popular search terms on Google, Yahoo, Bing, Ask and AOL Search are “unclaimed property,” “missing money,” and “unclaimed funds.” Social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube even have information on how to locate unclaimed property.
Since the program’s inception in 1961, the Bureau of Unclaimed Property has reunited owners or heirs of deceased owners with almost two billion in unclaimed property held in Florida. Having hosted millions of visitors on their website while receiving and responding to thousands of customer service calls, the Bureau has processed and paid out over $900 million in claims the last four years.
“Finding $37 isn’t like winning the lottery,” former Plantation councilman Rico Petrocelli told EyesOnNews. “Everyone should search the database as you never know what lost treasure you may find.”
Now holding over $1 billion in over ten million claimable accounts, unclaimed property originates from dormant accounts in financial institutions, insurance and utility companies, securities and trust holdings. Unclaimed property also includes tangible items such as watches, jewelry, coins, currency, stamps, historical items and other articles from abandoned safe deposit boxes.
CFO Jeff Atwater reminds Floridians of an interactive claims service making it easier to recover treasure held in the Bureau of Unclaimed Property. “I hope Floridians will take a moment or two each year to search our website for their name or business,” Atwater told EyesOnNews. “And in turn, we hope they’ll spread the word to family and friends so we can return as much money as possible.”
In minutes, one can determine whether they are entitled to missing money or property in Florida. Visit the Bureau of Unclaimed Property’s website at www.FLTreasureHunt.org or call toll-free 1-88-VALUABLE (888-258-2253). If you find a match, an online claims form can be completed, printed, and mailed with supporting documentation for processing. Although there is no statute of limitations on making a claim, the Bureau of Unclaimed Property does not pay interest on accounts.
“This is property many people don’t realize they have or don’t know how to go about finding,” Jose Daniel Carrillo, Director of the Barnett Capital Group, told EyesOnNews. “A few minutes on the website and I found unclaimed property for a relative.”
Florida is one of forty states that participate in a program endorsed by the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators, an organization that proactively seeks owners of missing and unclaimed property. By visiting www.MissingMoney.com or www.Unclaimed.org an individual can determine whether they are entitled to unclaimed funds. When searching, be sure to check each state that you have resided and under each name you have used. Also search for deceased relatives as heirs are often surprised to learn something has been left behind by the dearly departed.
Among the notable Floridians who have unclaimed funds being held by CFO Jeff Atwater and the Bureau of Unclaimed Property are convicted Ponzi schemer and disbarred attorney Scott Rothstein, the late Governor Lawton Chiles, former Governor Charlie Crist, former US Senator Mel Martinez, Congresswoman Corrine Brown, former Congressman Allen West, former Miami Dolphin Dan Marino, former Broward Sheriff Ken Jenne.
Businesses such as Starbucks, Comcast, eBay, Walmart, Publix, Winn-Dixie, Sun-Sentinel and the Miami Herald, are owed thousands of dollars should they ever decide to make a claim on the Bureau of Unclaimed Property in Tallahassee.
“I was surprised to find almost a dozen accounts in my name,” Fort Lauderdale attorney Joseph Dawson told EyesOnNews. “I’m looking forward to staking a claim for unclaimed property.”
If you are contacted by search firm advising they have found unclaimed property in your name and will process a claim on your behalf, politely decline and search the bureau registry yourself. Most states, including Florida, do not charge a fee to recover unclaimed property. There is no reason to pay for something you can do yourself in minutes and at the cost of a postage stamp.
“I encourage all Floridians to visit our web site at www.FLTreasureHunt.org,” Walter Graham, Bureau Chief, told EyesOnNews. “With over ten million claimable accounts, chances are good that the State of Florida is holding cash or property for you, your business, or someone you know.”
Bill Lewis of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, is a radio talk show host, Starbucks connoisseur, social media whiz, political consultant, extreme coupon shopper, identity theft expert, columnist, philanthropist and his kids Dad.
As a nationally recognized credit repair and ID theft expert, Bill Lewis is principal of William E. Lewis Jr. & Associates, a solutions based professional consulting firm specializing in the discriminating individual, business or governmental entity.