HARRISBURG, Pa. – Pennsylvania Treasurer Joe Torsella yesterday warned of a surge in unclaimed property scams targeting victims through fake letters and emails in which scammers portray themselves as National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators (NAUPA) or state Treasury representatives.
The phony correspondence in many instances has been found to utilize NAUPA letterhead, where it claims the state is holding on to your unclaimed property, which may be worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. Scammers then request personal information along with the need to collect a small fee with the promise to obtain the unclaimed property.
“As Treasurer, I’m outraged that anyone would attempt to defraud Pennsylvanians who just want their rightful property. Approximately ten percent of all Pennsylvanians have unclaimed property with Treasury, so it’s important that people know the correct way to find and collect what they’re owed,” said Torsella.
Annually, Treasury receives millions of dollars in unclaimed property–items such as abandoned bank accounts, forgotten stocks, uncashed checks and contents of safety deposit boxes. The property remains available for claim by the owners or their heirs in perpetuity and Treasury serves as the custodian until it can find and verify its rightful legal owner.
“You should always be a cautious consumer, particularly when receiving unsolicited mailings concerning your money,” said Torsella. “Treasury can help you recover your property free of charge however, independent “Finders” are also available. Consumer should make sure those “Finders” are certified by checking the listing on Treasury’s website.”
Claimants may search Treasury’s website for unclaimed property, or independent “Finders” are also available to assist. Pennsylvania state law requires that all “Finders” and property recovery professionals who assist potential claimants assemble a claim for a fee must complete an application and be certified as a finder by the Pennsylvania Treasury. While Pennsylvania Treasury always assists claimants prepare and file claims for free, Finders may provide their services for a fee. Those fees are now capped at 15% through Pennsylvania law.
The Pennsylvania Treasury reunited thousands of Pennsylvanians with a record $175 million in property and money in 2016 bringing the total value of money and items returned since July 1, 2005 to $1.3 billion. Additionally, Treasury collected $400 million in dormant and forgotten property this year.
To learn more about Pennsylvania’s Unclaimed Property Program or to search for money or other items held by the Treasury, visit www.patreasury.gov or call 800-222-2046.