Auditor of State Charlie Daniels returned $8,722,422 to owners of unclaimed property in fiscal year 2012, an increase of 26% over the total claims paid in 2011.
Roughly 15,000 Arkansans received a check for unclaimed property last year, but according to Daniels, that is still a fraction of people who have money waiting to be claimed.
"We estimate that we are holding money for about 1 in 4 Arkansans," Daniels said. "It's very common for un-cashed checks, refunds, deposits and credit balances to wind up sitting in our office because the original owner has moved or passed away. With $173 million waiting to be claimed, there is a good chance we have money waiting for you."
The Auditor of State provides an online unclaimed property search (click here) as well as a mobile app for users with smart phones. Users can search for property by entering a last name or an old address, and can start the claims process online. It takes from 1-3 weeks from the time the claim is submitted until the owner receives a check, depending on how much information is needed to verify claimant eligibility. The Auditor's office pays an average of 250-300 claims per week.
Since 2007, the Auditor's office has collected an average of $22.5 million in unclaimed monies annually. Each year during the Great Arkansas Treasure Hunt, the office publishes a list of owner names in newspapers across the state and, more recently, has been using social media sites like Facebook and Twitter to raise awareness about the program. Daniels credits the increase in 2012 claims to his office's efforts to spread the word about unclaimed property and to new software that allows for faster processing of both receipts and claims.
"We have made tremendous strides to improve our operations over the past year," said Daniels. "But the key to putting more of this money back in peoples' pockets where it belongs is simply awareness. Remember that it's up to you to check the list, and you'll probably be surprised at what you find."
Click here for more information, or call the Auditor of State's office at 1-800-CLAIM-IT.