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State to Hold Unclaimed Property Auction in Tampa

8/15/2003

CONTACT:
Tami Torres (850) 413-2842

TALLAHASSEE – The Department of Financial Services is auctioning $350,000 in unclaimed property on Saturday, August 16, in Tampa. Nearly 10,000 items will be put on the auction block, including antique jewelry, sports memorabilia and pre-Columbian artifacts.

Florida's Chief Financial Officer Tom Gallagher, who will kick off the event as a guest auctioneer, said, "The auction is a great opportunity for the public to bid on unique and interesting items and to know that the proceeds are going directly to help Florida's public schools."

Funds turned over to the state and money collected from auctioning valuable items are deposited into the State School Trust Fund, a trust fund managed by the Department of Education and benefiting Florida's schools, where they are available for Floridians to claim at any time.

Many schools have used those dollars to fund reading and mentoring initiatives as well as buy needed supplies, Gallagher added.

A majority of cash and items held by the state come from abandoned bank accounts and safe deposit boxes in Florida banks and credit unions. In addition, cash may be available from utility deposits, insurance refunds and stock payments. Florida law requires financial institutions to remit property that is unclaimed to the state after three years.

Property that is valuable, such as jewelry, coin collections or antiques, is typically held by the state for two to three years, after which it is auctioned. Property is never sold below the estimated appraisal value and the proceeds are held indefinitely until the owner is found and able to collect.

According to Gallagher, the state has $934 million in unclaimed property waiting to be returned to the rightful owners. No fees are ever charged for this state service, he said.

To find out if cash or property is being held by the state for you, or if you are an heir to unclaimed property, log on to www.fltreasurehunt.org and enter as much information as you can into our easy-to-use claim form. Floridians may also call our toll-free number at 1-88-VALUABLE.

Additional details about Saturday's auction are below.

Florida Bureau of Unclaimed Property
FACT SHEET AS OF AUGUST 12, 2003

• The Bureau is part of DFS's Division of Accounting & Auditing
• Agency official – Tom Gallagher, Chief Financial Officer of Florida (elected)
• Bureau Chief – Walter Graham
• Program inception – 1961
• Enacting statute – Chapter 717, F.S.
• Total unclaimed property received – $1,486,078,197

FY 2001-2002 $156,764,076

FY2002-2003 $158,992,314
• Number of total claims received – 848,406

FY 2001-2002 124,221

FY2002-2003 121,362
• Total claims paid (in number) – 723,096

FY 2001-2002 103,876

FY2002-2003 102,221
• Total claims paid (in dollars) – $551,892,623

FY 2001-2002 $73,862,577

FY2002-2003 $79,093,712
• Balance of accounts remaining to be claimed – $934,185,574
• Total owner records in Unclaimed Property Database – 4.7 million

Unclaimed property is a financial asset that has been left inactive by its owner. The most common types of unclaimed property are bank accounts, insurance proceeds, stocks, dividends, uncashed payroll checks, and refunds. The department also receives contents of safe deposit boxes from financial institutions.

These unclaimed assets are held by the reporting entity ("holder") for a set period of time, usually five years. If the holder is unable to locate the owner and re-establish contact, then the asset is delivered to the department as unclaimed property.

The department is required to record the information provided by the holder, including the dollar amount, owner name, last known address, Social Security number, and any beneficiaries or joint owners. All receipts, except an $8 million fund that is kept to pay claims, are deposited into the State School Fund, managed by the Florida Department of Education. The interest earned from this fund is used to benefit the Florida public school system. Each originally reported amount, however, is always available to the owner or his or her heirs. There is no statute of limitations on this property; it will always be available to be claimed by the owners or their heirs.

The department attempts to locate owners using various methods. Historically, the most well known method was the annual publication of names in newspapers throughout Florida. In recent years, the department also locates owners using credit bureau searches, driver's license searches, radio and television programs, and by participating in home shows, state fairs, and other community events. Additionally, the Bureau of Unclaimed Property has approximately 3.4 million records on a searchable database, accessible from the Department's Unclaimed Property Web site—www.FLtreasurehunt.org. The toll-free telephone number—1-88-VALUABLE or 1-888-258-2253—was established in 1995 for citizens in Florida to contact the department. Callers outside Florida can reach the Bureau of Unclaimed Property at (850) 410-9253.



THE BUREAU OF UNCLAIMED PROPERTY

The bureau currently has a staff of 60 employees. It consists of three sections, with subsections, as follows:

Accounts Receivable
REPORTING – Receives the Annual Reports from holders are received and enters the owner information into the Unclaimed Property Database.
RECORDS – This subsection is where the paid claims, claim documentation, holder reports, and all miscellaneous files are imaged and stored, and where public information requests are handled.
Asset Management
ACCOUNTING – Receives the remitted unclaimed property funds, stocks, mutual funds, and bonds.
VAULT – This subsection is where the remitted contents of safety deposit boxes are received.
Accounts Payable
CLAIMANT SERVICES – This is where claims for the unclaimed property accounts are processed for payment. Claimant Services also handles outreach activities.

OFFICIAL TITLES OF SUPERVISORS:

Walter Graham – Bureau Chief
Rick Sweet – Assistant Bureau Chief
Phillip Carlton – Financial Administrator, Supervisor–Accounts Receivable
Deidre Park – Financial Administrator, Supervisor–Accounts Payable
Mark Hammett – Financial Administrator, Supervisor–Asset Management
Donna Parker – Senior Management Analyst II, Claims Ombudsman
Tom Egler – Senior Management Analyst, Vault Supervisor
Don McKay – Senior Management Analyst, Records Supervisor

CLAIMANT SERVICES TEAM LEADERS (official title is Regulatory Supervisor/Consultant):

Bob Rivers – Bob's team handles all Claim Types 106, 107 and 108 and
processes reimbursements to holders (110). He also handles Escheated Estates.
Tawana McClellan – Tawana's team handles all Claim Types 106,107 and 108 and stock
claims. She also processes Department of Revenue (child support) claims.
April Burdeshaw – April's team handles all Claim Types 106,107 and 108. She also handles date
receiving, processing inquires, and Visiflow indexing, barcoding, and the Fax queue.

USEFUL DEFINITIONS:

Unclaimed (Abandoned) Property – Tangible or intangible property that is unclaimed by its rightful owner.

Activity – Action taken on property by the owner which may include making a deposit, withdrawal, written memorandum to the holder, or any action that state statute deems adequate.

Aggregate – The amounts reported for owners of unclaimed property of less than $50 or in instances when there is no name listed for the individual or entity in the holder's records, regardless of the amount reported.

Apparent Owner – The person whose name appears on the records of the holder as the owner entitled to property held, issued, or owing by the holder.

Conservator – An individual who is court appointed to legally hold, manage, and safeguard the value of another person's property.

Custodian – An individual or entity that holds property for the benefit and care of the rightful owner. A custodian controls the property until it is delivered to the rightful owner. Most states' laws make the unclaimed property office a custodian of the unclaimed property remitted to the state.

Due Diligence – The degree of effort required by statute that a holder of abandoned property must use to find the rightful owner of property before the property is remitted to the state.

Disclaimer – See "Indemnification."

Dormancy Period – The time period during which an owner of property does not take action on his or her property while it is held by the holder. (See "Activity.")

Dormancy Date/Date of Last Activity – The date of last contact with the listed holder by the owner.

Escheat – Literally, "escheat" is a transfer of property that makes the state the legal owner of the transferred property. Florida does not operate under an escheat law for abandoned property; few states do. Although most states act as custodians of the property, they still refer to this process as "escheat." (See "Custodian.")

Holder – The entity that controls abandoned property until it is transferred to the state on behalf of the owner.

Indemnification – An agreement that protects a party from loss by transferring the responsibilities to a third party. Literally, the term means "in your shoes". Thus, the third party "stands in the shoes" of the original party.

Intangible Personal Property – Property that is represented by a symbol. Stock certificates and bonds represent ownership interest in a company. A bond represents an obligation to pay the face value. Other examples of intangible personal property are checks, drafts, deposits, interest, dividends, credit balances, customer overpayments, security deposits, refunds, wages, unused airline tickets, and unidentified remittances. (Compare to "tangible personal property.")

NAUPA – The National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators. This is an association of the unclaimed property programs in all 50 states. Links to other states can be found on the association's Web site—www.unclaimed.org—or on the bureau's at www.Fltreasurehunt.org.

Owner – A person having legal or equitable claim to the unclaimed property. (See "person.")

Official Check – A check or written instrument for which a bank, financial organization, or business association is directly liable, including but not limited to drafts, money orders, travelers checks, cashier checks, expense and payroll checks.

Person – Any individual, business association, government or public subdivision, public corporation or authority, estate, trust, two or more persons having a joint or common interest, or any other legal or commercial entity.

Rightful Owner – A person who has the legal right to the property.

THE DEFINITIONS LISTED ABOVE ARE PROVIDED FOR EDUCATIONAL PURPOSES. THESE DEFINITIONS ARE NOT TO BE CONSIDERED A SUBSTITUTE FOR A LEGAL DEFINITION.

Special Note: The Department of Banking and Finance, the bureau's former department, was merged with the Department of Insurance on January 7, 2003, to form the new Department of Financial Services.