CFO Sink Announces Unclaimed Property Bureau Set to Return $150 Million
CONTACT: Tara Klimek or Nina Banister
TALLAHASSEE—Florida Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink announced today that the Department of Financial Services' Bureau of Unclaimed Property has already returned more unclaimed property to rightful owners in the last seven months than was returned during all of the previous fiscal year, which ended June 30, 2006.
Last year, the bureau paid a record $101 million in claims, exceeding the $100 million plateau for the first time. Last week, however, the bureau had already surpassed that figure for the current year, putting it on pace to potentially return more than $150 million by June 2007.
"We are holding more than one-billion dollars' worth of unclaimed property accounts for Floridians who have lost track of it," said CFO Sink, who oversees the department. "We have made it a top priority to track down rightful owners and get their property back to them as quickly as possible."
In January, CFO Sink personally delivered a substantial check to a South Florida fishing boat captain. The check was from stock accounts, remitted to the department last August, that the Broward County man and his sister never knew their grandfather had bought for them years ago.
The Bureau is currently holding 7.8 million accounts, mostly from dormant accounts in financial institutions, unclaimed utility deposits, insurance benefits, premium refunds, uncashed checks and trust accounts. The state's holdings also include property such as watches, jewelry, coins, stamps and historical items from abandoned safe deposit boxes.
Unclaimed property can be claimed for free at any time by the rightful owners or heirs by logging on to www.fltreasurehunt.org or by calling the Bureau at 1-88-VALUABLE. Until claimed, the unclaimed funds are transferred to the state's School Trust Fund to benefit public schools. Since the program's inception in 1961, more than $1.5 billion has been transferred to the fund.
As a statewide elected officer of the Florida Cabinet, Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink oversees the Department of Financial Services, a multi-division state agency responsible for management of state funds and unclaimed property, assisting consumers who request information and help related to financial services, and investigating financial fraud. CFO Sink also serves as the State Fire Marshal.