Volume 3 Number 36
September 4, 2006

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Program has pumped more than $1.6 billion into public schools

Tom Gallagher, Florida’s chief financial officer, announced that an unclaimed property auction held in Tampa drew more than 300 people and earned nearly $500,000 that will go into the state’s public school trust fund. Combined with the proceeds of an auction held in Jacksonville in July, more than $1 million will be added to the school coffers, which is a record amount from auction proceeds.

“This program is a win-win for everyone,” said Gallagher, who oversees the Department of Financial Services and the Bureau of Unclaimed Property. “We set another new record last fiscal year by returning more than $100 million worth of cash and property to the rightful owners, but in the meantime, Florida’s school children benefit by use of the funds for education.”

A 2-carat ladies wedding ring set took the top bid of $13,000 among the 32,000 items that were auctioned Saturday at the Sheraton Tampa Riverwalk Hotel. Other items auctioned included rare coins, currency, signed baseball cards, watches and silver place settings.

The auction items were remitted to the state from abandoned safe deposit boxes. In addition to money from the auction of safe deposit box contents, unclaimed property also includes bank accounts, unclaimed wages, checks, deposits, credit balances, insurance benefits and securities. The department currently holds unclaimed property accounts valued at more than $1.3 billion.

Claiming unclaimed property from the state is free, and owners or heirs can claim it at any time. The department also has a website, www.fltreasurehunt.org, and a toll-free hotline, 1-88-VALUABLE, where citizens can regularly check to see if the state is holding unclaimed property for them.