Volume 1 Number 15
April 12, 2004









 

 

Back to Great Florida Treasure Hunt


DATELINE NBC HIGHLIGHTS UNCLAIMED PROPERTY

The Bureau of Unclaimed Property is expecting heavy website traffic and increasing numbers of phone calls following last Friday’s broadcast of Dateline NBC.  Friday’s Dateline featured a look at Unclaimed Property programs nationwide.  Florida’s inquiries frequently double after similar stories, with thousands of Floridians going online or calling to search for unclaimed property. 

“Searching for lost treasure isn’t just for adventurers and explorers,” said Chief Financial Officer Tom Gallagher, who administers Florida’s unclaimed property program.  “Floridians could be a mouse click or a phone call away from discovering lost or forgotten treasure.” 

 The Department’s Bureau of Unclaimed Property is currently holding approximately $977 million belonging to more than 4 million Floridians, and these numbers are growing.  The department urges Floridians to search the state’s online database of unclaimed property at www.fltreasurehunt.org to find out if the department is holding cash or property belonging to them.  Floridians may also call 1-88-VALUABLE. 

The department has returned nearly $75 million to Floridians since July 2003.  Most of the property comes from dormant accounts in financial institutions, deposits paid to utility companies, insurance premium refunds, safe deposit boxes and trust holdings.  In addition to cash and securities, the state’s holdings include property such as watches, jewelry, coins, stamps and historical items. 

“We have Spanish doubloons, fine diamonds, rare autographed baseball cards and much more,” Gallagher said.  “Florida is searching for the owners, but if they can’t be found, the state auctions these items to the highest bidder to benefit public education.”

 Unclaimed property held by the state is deposited into the State School Trust Fund until it is claimed by the rightful owner.  Items from abandoned safe deposit boxes are auctioned annually, but the proceeds are always available for the owners to collect.  Last year’s auction yielded approximately $500,000 to benefit public education.