Illinois Attempts to Make Claiming Cash Easier
Inside Subprime: September 12, 2018
By Kerry Reid
If you’re among the vanishing ranks of print newspaper readers, you may remember seeing an insert in your paper once or twice a year that lists unclaimed property in your state. And you may think “Well, how would anyone forget that they have left money on the table somewhere?”
But it happens. A lot. In the state of Illinois alone, the office of State Treasurer Michael Frerichs reports that they are holding $2.9 billion for state residents.
That money often comes in what are considered “intangible” assets and includes the following, according to the state: “checking and savings accounts, uncashed wage and payroll checks, uncashed stock dividends and stock certificates, insurance payments, utility deposits, customer deposits, accounts payable, credit balances, refund checks, money orders, traveler’s checks, mineral proceeds, court deposits, uncashed death benefit checks and life insurance proceeds. Unclaimed property does not include real estate or vehicles.”
Illinois has returned over $300 million in unclaimed assets over the past two years. But that means there’s a whole lot of unclaimed money still waiting to find its rightful owners (whether the people it was owed to originally or their heirs).
So to streamline the process and make it more likely that the money will be reunited with those to whom it rightfully belongs, Frerichs’ office has introduced a new “Money Match” program.
This new program takes the onus off the owners to find out if they’re owed money and gather the necessary paperwork. Instead of having to file a claim, the treasurer’s office will match your name to the list of names with unclaimed property using existing technology and by coordinating with the Illinois Department of Revenue to find an up-to-date mailing address.
The state expects to send the first batch of an estimated 63,000 notification letters in September. Once they’ve confirmed that they have the correct address, they’ll send recipients the checks a few weeks later. They estimate that around $12 million will be returned in this initial batch.
There are some catches: the property must be $2,000 or less, and with only one owner. So if, for example, you’re involved in disputes over the estate of the deceased original owner or the property might be considered part of a divorce settlement, you probably won’t be getting that check. Other circumstances that involve multiple owners include joint holdings between a parent and child, shares of stocks and bonds, bank safe deposit contents and escrow accounts.
When the Illinois General Assembly authorized Frerichs’ office to move forward with the “Money Match” program in 2017, they were following in the footsteps of other states that have recently done the same, including Wisconsin and Rhode Island.
Legally, the state must hold onto the unclaimed property for as long as it takes to find the owner. As reported by WICS/WRSP in Springfield, Frerichs said “It’s their money. We want to get it to dollar circulating throughout the community. It does a lot more good for their community and our state than it does sitting in a bank account or a vault in Springfield.”
If you want to check to see if you’re one of the people who may be owed unclaimed cash, you don’t have to wait for the state to match you up. You can still search online at https://icash.illinoistreasurer.gov/app/claim-search.
Learn more about the dangers of payday loans in the United States in all of our Subprime Reports.