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CT sets new national record for largest single listing returned

The Connecticut state treasurer has a new national record. The largest single payout of unclaimed property in US history now stands at $32.8 million for 1.3 million shares of stock. This surpasses the previous high last year of $6.1 million, also from stocks, to a woman in Missouri. Prior to that, it was $4 million in New York from stocks.

There's a definite pattern.

The State of Washington enacted legislation in 2011 that allows it to sell your stocks as soon as they cross the door. It doesn't matter what the market is doing at the moment. After all, states can't use shares of stock, but they can utilize the cash until you claim it.

States are decreasing the dormancy period, that period of time where there has been no owner-initiated activity, from five years down to three for most forms of unclaimed property. In addition, the trend is changing the abandoned definition regarding securities from returned mail to owner-initiated inactivity. 

The key words here are owner-initiated activity. The stocks earning money, the money going directly to your bank account, none of these are signs that the owner is even still alive, let alone that they remember they have the account. Owner-initiated activity is just as the name implies. You vote your proxy. You add to the account or make a withdrawal. You update your beneficiary information, confirm your address, call, write or log-in to the account. There is some form of activity that comes from you.

It's far better to prevent your money from going to the state than having to file a claim to get it back. 

To see if you have unclaimed property go to www.unclaimed.org. Click on every state you've ever lived in and enter your name. You may have lost a fortune and not even know it.



CFPB seeks input on gift card laws

The Consumer Finance Protection Bureau is looking into the gift card laws of Maine and Tennessee to see if the state laws violate the federal law.

You can bet I'm going to be in touch with them. These laws are designed to fail the consumer on several levels:

1. If you try to file a claim, you need to know for sure in which state the card was purchased. If it was purchased online it may get turned over to the state where the company is incorporated.

2. How does the consumer search to see if their gift card is listed on the state site? They aren't listed under gift card, or last name: Card, first name: Gift. So how does the consumer go about filing a claim?

3. There are different laws across the states. It's too confusing for consumers to keep track of what law applies to what state. However, a handy reference is www.scripsmart.com that has a summary of each state's gift card laws. Again, you have to know to look there.

The best thing you can do as we head into the holiday season is make sure that the gift card you are considering purchasing is one the recipient will actually use. Ask them! It's better that they have an idea that they're getting a gift card from a place they shop at as opposed to one that will get buried in the junk drawer. If you're the recipient, use it ASAP! If you get a card you won't use, there are sites where you can exchange the card with someone who doesn't want the one that you would have rather received or you can simply sell it on the sites.

Whatever you do, don't let the state get your money!



Unclaimed property from around the globe: Kenya


How your stocks go to the state

Excellent article here on how and why your stocks go to the state--even though you haven't moved in 25 years. This is a MUST READ for those with stocks who want to prevent their money from going to the state.



Unclaimed assets and property seized by law enforcement

This is a great list of yet another source of legally seized unclaimed property and how you can get your hands on some of it..