02/26/2016 10:43 AM EST
AUGUSTA – Letters sent from a Massachusetts address, claiming to be from a prominent national unclaimed property organization, and promising to return unclaimed property from a sweepstakes prize to rightful owners, are not being sent by the Office of the State Treasurer, or the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators, according to Maine Treasurer Terry Hayes.
“These letters, being mailed from out of state, are not from the State Treasurer, or any reputable Unclaimed Property organization. They are fraudulent. It’s unfortunate that this entity is seeking to exploit our state’s unclaimed property program. I recommend that people who receive this notice do not respond in any way.”
“Additionally, my office has been made aware of several websites that seek to collect fees to search for properties. There is no need to pay a fee to search for, or to file a claim for property. I continue to encourage Mainers to check the state’s official Unclaimed Property List at http://www.maine.gov/upsearch and to make claims on their rightful property,” Hayes added.
Official unclaimed property notices will never direct owners to pay money, whether for processing fees, tax payments, or otherwise, when searching unclaimed property, or filing a claim. This is a very important red flag when dealing with unclaimed property. The State Treasurer’s website, http://www.maine.gov/upsearch is free of charge to search and claim, as is the national website, www.missingmoney.com.
The Office of the State Treasurer and Maine State Legislators do utilize the mail to notify owners of unclaimed property. There are a number of ways to differentiate legitimate official notices from those that are not. Notices from the Maine State Treasurer will be mailed from an Augusta, Maine return address; they will direct owners to an official State of Maine website (maine.gov); they will advertise the Treasurer’s local phone number (207) 624-7470, and they will bear the official seal of the State of Maine and the signature of the Treasurer.
Unclaimed Property consists of cash and other financial assets that are considered lost or abandoned when an owner cannot be located after a specified period of time. It includes, among other items, checking accounts, certificates of deposit, over payments, gift certificates, life insurance policies, unpaid wages, uncashed checks, death benefits, dividends, insurance payments, refunds, savings accounts, stocks and contents of safe deposit boxes. Unclaimed Property does not include real estate, animals or vehicles. The Office of the Maine State Treasurer is currently holding $225,000,000 worth of property that belongs to Mainers.