Con Watch: You May Have Unclaimed Property, but Beware of Scammers
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Con Watch: You May Have Unclaimed Property, but Beware of Scammers

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Steve Weisman is a lawyer, college professor, author and one of the nation's leading experts in cybersecurity, identity theft and scams. View Steve's othercon watch Article.

Various state and federal agencies have $24 billion in unclaimed funds that have been returned by banks, utilities, insurance companies, brokerages and others. These agencies hold the money until the rightful owner claims it. State laws require financial institutions like banks to return money from inactive accounts. And companies and institutions hand over accounts after three to five years of inactivity. Thousands of people have no idea they'll have checks waiting for them if only they could claim them.

Unfortunately, crooks will take advantage of people's lack of knowledge about unclaimed property to scam them. Often posing as government employees, they would offer to help them claim large amounts of abandoned property. The victim simply has to provide their Social Security number and, sometimes, pay a small fee by credit card. Anyone providing this personal information becomes a victim of identity theft and may even have their credit cards compromised. Real agencies that handle abandoned property do not approach them this way.

You may also receive a notice stating that, for a fee, a company will help you locate your unclaimed property. These companies can't do anything to claim your abandoned property that you could easily do, but they do charge up to 15 percent of the total value of the property to “help” you. In some instances, their letter may appear to have come from National Association of Unclaimed Property AdministratorsWhich is a legitimate organization, but not one that initiates communications with individuals whose money they hold.

The best place to find help in locating your abandoned property and getting it back is at your own hand. go to National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators Find the agency in your own state that deals with abandoned property and take the necessary steps to reclaim your property at no cost to you. Other useful websites for tracking the money you owe include irWhere you can get tax refund money, and Pension Benefit Guarantee Corporation, a federal agency that holds unclaimed pension funds. you can also go Labour Department Where you can find out whether your employer has outstanding salaries and former employer owes pension or not. Ultimately, the federal government has a great job. Website With links to unpaid wages, unclaimed VA life insurance funds, tax refunds, matured but uncashed savings bonds and more. All of these are easy to use and free.

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