OPINION: All Minnesotans urged to claim their unclaimed property
Tuesday, March 19, 2013 4:27 AM
Our state's Unclaimed Property Program was created in 1969 to ensure that money that businesses owed to Minnesotans was held in the public interest and returned to the extent possible to Minnesota's consumers.
What are your chances of having $100 or more waiting for you? One in 20 Minnesotans have unclaimed property, typically dormant bank accounts, un-cashed checks, unclaimed wages, safe deposit boxes, stocks or insurance policies.
It's easy. It's your money. The State of Minnesota is here to help return your money to you. Go to www.missingmoney.com or visit the Commerce Department's Unclaimed Property website http://mn.gov/commerce/consumers/Unclaimed-Property/.
It takes less than 30 seconds to check to see if you may be 1 of 20 Minnesotans who have missing money.
In the past two years, the Commerce Department has seen great improvement - collecting 8 percent more property and helping 7,200 consumers find and claim $18 million in 2012, a 13 percent increase including an overall increase in the total amount of money returned.
In fiscal year 2013, commerce is on pace to greatly exceed 2012's record of helping consumers, already reuniting over 10,000 Minnesotans with their money.
When I started the job as commissioner, I identified the importance of improving and fixing issues with the Unclaimed Property Program, increasing service to consumers through efficient and accountable government.
For example, the Commerce Department increased the use of technology to reunite more Minnesota consumers with their rightfully owned property.
The opportunity to make an impact in Minnesota consumers' lives by reforming the Unclaimed Property Program was great - roughly 1 in 20 Minnesotans had over $100 or more in unclaimed property; and the Department was aware of questions from holders about their reporting requirements in Minnesota.
The success in helping Minnesotans is due to a comprehensive approach including:
1) implement technology and our website to help streamline reuniting consumers with their money,
2) help businesses and organizations who want to be in compliance understand the requirements of unclaimed property reporting in Minnesota, and
3) investigate noncompliance and change the reporting practices to ensure more consumer-friendly practices as well as compliance with the law.
The changes and work done by the Unclaimed Property staff have made an impact in the lives of thousands of Minnesotans. The amount of time it takes to process some claims has been dramatically reduced from 90 days to 48 hours.
A leader in the country, Minnesota is one of a handful of states that have rolled out "FastTrack," a software system that helps expedite the process for smaller claims.
The state's online look-up tool, www.MissingMoney.com, was also enhanced to include behind-the-scene validation tools for certain claims that can substantially reduce the time it takes to return money to Minnesota consumers.
Our overriding goal is to serve Minnesotans better: Our staff has worked diligently to increase unclaimed property reported and returned to its rightful owners, the citizens of Minnesota.
I urge you - this could be your money, come claim it.