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State Returns Record Amount of Unclaimed Property

7/7/2004

CONTACT: Tami Torres or Justin Glover
(850) 413-2842

TALLAHASSEE-The Department of Financial Services continues to return record amounts of unclaimed property to the rightful owners, according to Florida's Chief Financial Officer Tom Gallagher. Gallagher today announced that during the last fiscal year, the department returned nearly $100 million in unclaimed property funds, surpassing the previous year's record of $78 million.

Gallagher urged 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.

"Floridians could be a mouse click or a phone call away from lost treasure," Gallagher said.

The department's Bureau of Unclaimed Property is currently safeguarding nearly $1.1 billion in cash and property belonging to Floridians. The property comes from abandoned bank accounts, insurance proceeds, stocks, dividends, uncashed payroll checks, refunds and safe deposit boxes. Under Florida law, the holders, such as banks, credit unions, utilities, insurance companies and employers, are required to forward their unclaimed holdings to the state for safekeeping. The state attempts to locate owners or their heirs to return the property. When efforts to locate the owners fail, public auctions are held to convert safe deposit items box into cash that is held indefinitely for the owners or heirs to claim.

On July 31, 2004, the Florida Department of Financial Services will hold its annual public auction with more than $500,000 worth of unclaimed safe deposit box items. The auction will be held at the Holiday Inn Crowne Plaza, 950 NW LeJuene Road, in Miami. Funds generated from the auction will go to the State School Trust Fund, which is used for public education.

Bidding requires a refundable $250 cash deposit and valid driver's license providing full name and current address. A catalog of auction items is available at www.FLtreasurehunt.org.