On February 1, states across the country will celebrate National Unclaimed Property Day to raise awareness and encourage people to check if they have cash or property owed to them, Illinois Treasurer Michael Frerichs said.
“We know when we get money back in the hands of residents, it does more good for our economy than sitting in a bank,” Frerichs said. “You don’t have to wait until February 1, you can check our website today at illinoistreasurer.gov/ICASH and find out if you or someone you know has cash or property to claim.”
The National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators (NAUPA) launched the first National Unclaimed Property Day on February 1, 2021, to inform more people about unclaimed property.
“States are required to return unclaimed property to its owner no matter how long it takes,” Kathleen Lobell, Director of Louisiana Unclaimed Property, and President of National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators (NAUPA) said. “It is your money and should be returned to you.”
An estimated one-in-four people in Illinois find unclaimed property and the average claim is $1,000. Since 2015, $1.3 billion in unclaimed property has been returned, the most that have been returned in the program’s 60-year history. The $1.3 billion milestone was possible because Frerichs prioritized changes in technology, efficiency, and state law to streamline the unclaimed property process. The number of successful claims for unclaimed property per year has more than tripled.
Here is a small sampling of the hundreds of thousands of unclaimed property returns made by the Treasurer’s Office in 2021:
- A Chicago-area woman received $4.4 million from an estate claim.
- A southern Illinois woman received $140,000 from a life insurance policy.
- Ernest Ulrich, an Army veteran from Chicago, left $2.1 million to be split between The Salvation Army, Little Brothers Friends of the Elderly, The Chicago Lighthouse for People Who Are Blind, Goodwill Industries of Metro Chicago, and Shriners Hospitals for Children.
- A Catholic school in Rockford received more than $2,100.
- $12,000 returned to condo association in Rogers Park in Chicago.
- A Metro East library received over $3,000.
Unclaimed property refers to money or accounts within financial institutions or companies in which there has been no activity for several years and the legal owner has not responded to inquiries by the business. In Illinois, the state treasurer is tasked with safeguarding unclaimed property, such as unpaid life insurance benefits, forgotten bank accounts, and unused rebate cards.
Because unclaimed property is reported to the treasurer’s office twice a year, it is recommended individuals check the database every six months.