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$18.1 Million Already Returned to Arkansans in Great AR Treasure Hunt
LITTLE ROCK, AR --
Little Rock, AR -- (News Release) Auditor of State Charlie Daniels returned $18.1 million to Arkansans with unclaimed property in fiscal year 2014, an increase of 60% over the total claims paid in 2013. Properties that were returned this year represent abandoned checking accounts, utility deposits, stocks, rebates and more. The office processed 33,450 claims, a 150% increase in the number of claims over 2013 that Auditor Daniels attributes to a new approach his office is taking to find owners.
"Public awareness has always been the biggest hurdle to clear during the Great Arkansas Treasure Hunt. With an increased social media presence, a new direct mail approach and word of mouth, Arkansans across the state have become treasure hunters searching for their friends, neighbors and family members, resulting in more than 33,000 successful claims this year."
One of those success stories belongs to Carey Young of Little Rock, who claimed more than $13,000 after his wife found his name on the Great Arkansas Treasure Hunt website. A former local business owner, Young and his family had fallen on hard times after health issues and a career transition left them facing mounting past-due bills. "My wife flipped out and started crying. I just couldn’t believe it," Young said. "This is such a blessing right now. It’s like a million dollars to us.”
Daniels says Young’s story is a perfect example of why the unclaimed property program is so important. "This money doesn't belong in a vault at the State Capitol, it belongs to the people of Arkansas that have already worked hard to earn it. That is why we are constantly reviewing our claims process and making improvements that will cut down on the amount of time it takes to get that money back where it rightfully belongs."
Daniels employed a new approach to notifying 27,000 new unclaimed property owners this year by sending letters directly to the owners last known address, resulting in thousands of Arkansans finding lost money before the Treasure Hunt even began.
In addition, a new "Notify Me" service was created online to allow users to sign up once and then be notified by email when unclaimed property in their name is received by the Auditor's office. These new programs represent a shift to a proactive approach for finding people who are owed money from the state, an option that until recently was not viable for the office due to the volume of calls and paperwork associated with unclaimed property.
“About 75% of our claims this year came from e-Filing. That’s a lot of manual paperwork shifted away from our office. It gives our people a chance to focus on more complex claims, and spend time trying to find the people who have unclaimed money,” Daniels says.
The Great Arkansas Treasure Hunt search begins online here Arkansans may file claims online anytime, or call the Auditor of State’s Unclaimed Property Division at 1-800-CLAIM-IT to speak to a claims representative.