More on unclaimed property

Marketplace Staff Aug 18, 2006

KAI RYSSDAL: We ran an interview last week on how to find unclaimed property. Lots of you wrote in to share your good fortune. You found plenty of goodies in that big lost and found bin out there: Uncashed paychecks for $1,500. An old retirement account worth $2,000.

Don’t worry, we won’t ask for a cut, but we did get a listener question that deserves a follow up. It comes from Tony in St.Paul, Minn. His family received a solicitation from a company that claims to have discovered $15,000 for them. The company wants a 30 percent finder’s fee and then they’ll tell Tony how to locate the money.

Tony followed our advice and went online to find the property. He can’t find any records, and he wants to know what to do. So we called Jeb Spaulding back. Jeb is Vermont’s state treasurer and an expert on unclaimed property. His advice:

JEB SPAULDING: See if you can ask questions of them to find out what kind of property this is. What is property? And that might help you do a search on your own and keep more of your money. Then you might ask them, well if you don’t do anything and you don’t sign up with them, will the property be turned over to the state’s unclaimed property program? And lastly I am told that most of these firms are willing to negotiate. I’d doubt you have to pay 20 or 30 percent. I think you can talk them down to a lower percentage.

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