Protecting Your Finances During a Crisis
Treasurer Fitzgerald's Tips to Prevent Your Assets from Becoming Unclaimed Property
DES MOINES, IA (05/19/2020) (readMedia)-- In light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, State Treasurer Michael Fitzgerald wants to remind Iowans to monitor their assets to prevent them from becoming unclaimed property. The Treasurer's Office receives millions of dollars in unclaimed property every year, simply due to a misspelled name or an out-of-date address. "With the challenges Iowans are facing today, I understand how difficult it can be to review your assets during this time," said Fitzgerald. "To keep things simple, I have five tips to help guide individuals on protecting their assets from becoming unclaimed property."
Follow these tips to help safeguard your financial security:
1. Contact institutions that hold your assets when you change your name or address.
2. Promptly cash all checks for wages, dividends, refunds and insurance settlements.
3. Use gift cards as soon as possible.
4. Respond only to direct requests from financial institutions or companies you conduct business with for confirmation of account ownership.
5. Notify a family member or trusted advisor of the location of your records.
Most unclaimed property becomes abandoned as a result of a change of address, name change or death of the owner. "Sometimes the owner knows about the asset, but is unaware that it has been declared abandoned and turned over to the state," Fitzgerald said. "Check your financial accounts regularly throughout the year. You can ensure your account is not considered inactive by logging into online accounts."
Unclaimed property refers to money and other assets held by financial institutions or companies that have lost contact with the property's owner for a specific period of time. State law requires these institutions and companies to annually report and deliver unclaimed property to the state treasurer's office. The assets are then held until the owner or heir of the property is found. Common forms of unclaimed property include savings or checking accounts, stocks, uncashed checks, life insurance policies, utility security deposits and safe deposit box contents.
Treasurer Fitzgerald returns unclaimed property through the Great Iowa Treasure Hunt. Currently, the program is holding over $396 million in unclaimed property and has returned over $281 million to more than 535,000 individuals since Fitzgerald started it in 1983. See if you have any unclaimed property by visiting GreatIowaTreasureHunt.gov. Keep up with all of the treasurer's office programs on Facebook and Twitter.