Comptroller “Indiana” Franchot Successfully Returns Unclaimed Property to Marylanders
ANNAPOLIS, Md. (June 15, 2012) – The yearly newspaper insert for unclaimed property beckoned Marylanders to join Comptroller “Indiana” Franchot on an adventure as they searched for unclaimed treasures. More than 12,000 citizens joined in the quest and 5,695, nearly half, were rewarded for their efforts.
For two weeks in April, the 184-page insert could be found in more than 30 local newspapers throughout the state. The supplement listed nearly $51 million in unclaimed property in more than 70,000 accounts.
“I’m glad to report that there was a huge response to this year’s insert,” said Comptroller Franchot. “The number one priority of my office is to serve the residents of this great state, not just as the tax collector, but to also return any property that may have been forgotten or lost along the way.”
The total amount of accounts currently held by the unclaimed property unit is 970,000 accounts, worth more than $985 million.
The Comptroller’s Office is the guardian of bank accounts, contents of safe deposit boxes, security deposits, wages and insurance benefits and proceeds that have been unclaimed for more than three years. Property, such as parcels of land or homes, is not included.
By law, financial institutions, insurance companies, utilities and other companies are required to notify the Comptroller of any property that has gone unclaimed, or without activity, for more than three years. Once the Comptroller’s Office is notified, staff attempts to locate the rightful owners to match them with their property. Even though the Comptroller is the guardian of the property, the items continue to belong to the owners or their rightful heirs and are available to be claimed at any time. There is no deadline on when the owners can collect their funds.
Some items held by the Comptroller’s Office are eligible for auction on eBay to obtain the best return in value for the rightful owners. The auction program has been in place for six years and nearly 6,100 items have been sold, totaling more than $1.2 million. These items can be viewed and bid on by clicking the eBay icon at www.marylandtaxes.com.
Utilizing newspaper advertising is just one way the Comptroller’s Office attempts to locate owners of unclaimed property. The office also searches for owners by matching files with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and state Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA) records, as well as setting up computers at the Maryland State Fair and other events to allow people to check the agency’s files of unclaimed funds. The state of Maryland does not charge a fee for returning your property.
The Comptroller's Office honored nearly 50,000 claims totaling more than $43.6 million for fiscal year 2011, which ended on June 30, 2011. More than $240 million has been returned to nearly 240 thousand owners since January 2007.