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CFO Sink: Punta Gorda Resident Receives Six-Figure Check from Unclaimed Property

9/25/2007

CONTACT: 
Tara Klimek or Brannon Jordan 
(850) 413-2842   
  
State is holding nearly 8 million accounts totaling more than $1 billion.
 
PUNTA GORDA – Florida Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink announced today that members of the Department of Financial Services, Bureau of Unclaimed Property (Bureau), returned a six-figure check to a Punta Gorda resident along with a reminder about the importance of regularly checking the Unclaimed Property Web site to determine if the state is holding assets that belong to you or your relatives.
 
“We work hard to reunite Floridians with their unclaimed assets,” said CFO Sink, who oversees the Bureau.  “I encourage all Floridians to visit our Web site at www.FLTreasureHunt.org. With nearly eight million accounts, the chances are good we are holding cash or property for you or someone you know.”
 
Tom of Punta Gorda, who asked to be identified only by his first name, was contacted by his brother in Tennessee who uncovered that the state of Florida was holding more than $435,000 in unclaimed cash.  The property, left unclaimed by their mother when she passed away, was mostly from mutual fund shares and dividends.  Today, the Bureau divided and returned the cash to the brothers, for a total of $217,850 each.
 
Currently, there are 42,789 unclaimed property accounts for a total of $7.5 million in Collier County, 113,354 accounts for 17.8 million in Lee County, 38,289 accounts for $8.5 million in Charlotte County, 7,710 accounts totaling over $969,000 in Glades County, 9,544 accounts totaling over $1.2 million in Hendry County and 91,816 accounts totaling over $17.1 million in Sarasota County. 
 
The Bureau receives items that have been abandoned in safe deposit boxes for at least three years and spends up to two years searching for the rightful owners or heirs.  The Bureau has had tremendous success in finding owners.  In the past year alone, the Bureau returned a record 255,000 accounts valued at more than $171 million.  But when owners or heirs cannot be found, the items are auctioned.  While the proceeds from the auctioned items are transferred to the state's Public School Trust Fund, the money is held in the original owner’s name and can be claimed for free at any time.
 
Since the program's inception 46 years ago, the Bureau has successfully reunited owners with more than $1 billion in unclaimed property.  Over the past five years, the program has returned more than $546 million-- more than half of all the money returned since the beginning of the program-- due largely to aggressive efforts by the program to contact owners.
 
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, as well 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.