$50.7 million in unclaimed property waiting to be discovered.
Comptroller "Indiana" Franchot wants you to accompany him on an adventure beyond your wildest imagination. Millions of dollars in "lost treasure" are up for grabs for those willing to do a little digging. No exotic travel or crawling through hidden tombs required (and definitely, no snakes!). All you have to do is open your local newspaper where X marks the spot for your missing "golden idol."
Comptroller Peter Franchot wants Maryland residents to be on the lookout for his agency's annual unclaimed property advertising insert. Over the next two weeks, the insert, which can be found in more than 30 local newspapers, will help reunite Marylanders with nearly $51 million in unclaimed property. Beginning Sunday, April 15 through Friday, April 27 Maryland residents should keep their eyes open for the 184-page insert and use it as a map to discover forgotten treasures.
The unclaimed property unit of 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, they try 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. "The number one priority of the Comptroller's Office is to serve the citizens of Maryland," said Comptroller Franchot. "In that respect, we take our responsibility for reuniting Marylanders with what is rightfully theirs very seriously."
He goes on to say, "Many of the unclaimed property accounts on our books are simply forgotten by the owners. But, in other cases, the property is something left behind by a relative, which no one knew about until they checked the list. Those cases are the most exciting because it is a complete surprise and it really is like finding a secret, lost treasure."
Comptroller Franchot urges anyone who finds their name in the ad to contact his office at 410-767-1700 in Central Maryland, or toll-free at 1-800-782-7383, to find out how to reclaim their lost property. The agency's complete list of 970,000 accounts, worth more than $985 million, is also available online at any time, for free, at www.marylandtaxes.com or www.missingmoney.com.
Some items held by the Unclaimed Property division of 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 to you.
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.