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Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater Joins Governor Scott in Signing Legislation Automating Unclaimed Property Claims

5/2/2013

Contact: CFO Atwater’s Press Office  
(850) 413-2842         
TALLAHASSEE— Florida Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater today joined Governor Rick Scott, Senator Flores (R-Miami) and Representative Mayfield (R-Vero Beach) at a bill signing ceremony for SB 464, which allows the CFO’s Bureau of Unclaimed Property to create a fully automated claims process.
 
With the signing of this bill, the Bureau of Unclaimed Property will be developing an automated system for claims less than $1,000.  The new automated process will verify a claimant’s identity and quickly return unclaimed funds.  This new automated process will eliminate the need to manually process approximately 27 percent of all claims, allowing unclaimed funds to be returned faster with no additional resources.
 
“With more than $1 billion of unclaimed property waiting to be claimed, this bill will allow us to work more efficiently to get more of these dollars back into the pockets of their rightful owners,” CFO Atwater said.  “I would like to thank Governor Scott and the Legislature for supporting the Unclaimed Property program and helping in our efforts to return more unclaimed property than ever before.”
 
Governor Scott said, “This bill cuts through paperwork and enhances services for Florida families, so they can quickly access their property. This is yet another example of how our effort to cut costs and add value for Florida taxpayers is working.”  
 
“The overwhelming support we received for this piece of legislation is a testament to the good work being done at the CFO’s office to return unclaimed property to Floridians,” Sen. Flores said. “Using new technology and moving to an electronic claims process will help the Bureau of Unclaimed Property process claims faster and more efficiently— reuniting even more Floridians with their unclaimed property.” 
 
“These are financially challenging times for many Floridians and an automated claims process will make it easier for CFO Atwater to return unclaimed funds to their rightful owners,” Rep. Mayfield said.  “I was proud to sponsor this bill and encourage all Floridians to check the CFO’s website to see if you have unclaimed property waiting to be returned to you.”
 
The majority of property is from dormant accounts in financial institutions, insurance and utility companies, securities, and trust holdings. In addition to money and securities, unclaimed property includes tangible property such as watches, jewelry, coins, currency, stamps, historical items and other miscellaneous articles from abandoned safe deposit boxes.
 
Unclaimed money is deposited into the state school fund, where it is used for public education. There is, however, no statute of limitations, and citizens have the right to claim their property at any time at no cost. To search for or claim unclaimed property, visit www.FLTreasureHunt.org, or call 1-88-VALUABLE or 850-413-5555.
 
During CFO Atwater’s tenure, the Bureau of Unclaimed Property has seen record returns, reuniting owners, heirs and businesses with more than $500 million, due largely to persistent efforts to contact owners. There is no statute of limitations on unclaimed property, and citizens have the right to claim their property, or the proceeds derived from their abandoned property, any time at no cost.
 
Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater, a statewide elected official and officer of the Florida Cabinet, oversees the Department of Financial Services. CFO Atwater’s priorities include fighting financial fraud, abuse and waste in government; reducing government spending and regulatory burdens that chase away businesses; and providing transparency and accountability in spending.