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 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.