Electronic claims for unclaimed property grow
CHARLESTON — State Treasurer John Perdue’s Unclaimed Property Division received nearly half of its claims applications electronically in December, a not-sounusual trend, while its Fast Track program attempted to get money in claimants’ hands faster.
A total of 363 claims were filed electronically in December, accounting for 48.3 percent of all claims filed, according to a press release from the treasurer’s office. An electronic claim is one in which the claimant goes to www.wvtreasury.com and files online, providing identifying information without having to submit paper documents.
“We try to remain on the cutting edge of technology,” Perdue said. “An e-claim is by far our most popular option for claimants. The claim can be filed from the comfort of their home.”
E-claims have traditionally been tailored to relatively low dollar amount claims for property with a single owner, while more complicated claims often involve providing paper documentation, such as wills or business documents.
Unclaimed property is any financial asset from which an individual has become unintentionally separated, according to the release. Examples are forgotten utility deposits, a left-behind final paycheck and abandoned safe deposit box contents.
According to statistics from the treasurer’s office, other sources of unclaimed property claims were owner claims, at 27 percent of claims filed, and claims generated directly from newspaper inserts, at 16.8 percent. Various other sources made up the rest, the release said.
An owner claim is a paper claim filed by the property owner. Often the claimant discovers the asset on the treasurer’s office website, downloads the paper form from the website and physically mails the document. The claimant may also call 1-800-642-8687 to find out whether the office is holding his or her property, and then file a claim.
Newspaper advertisements are those claims in which the constituent uses the form printed twice a year in “Discover,” a partial listing of approximately 13,000 rightful owners of unclaimed property. Each new list in “Discover” has never been published before.
“We want to give each rightful owner every avenue possible to be reunited with his or her possessions,” Perdue said. “And we want to do it as quickly as possible. That’s where Fast Track comes in.”
Fast Track claims are expedited e-claims which use external databases to verify the identity of the claimant and determine whether it matches the property owner. If claims are of a relatively small amount and meet specific identification standards, those claims may be “fast tracked” for automated approval.
Deputy Treasurer for Unclaimed Property Carolyn Atkinson said the Fast Track system has been in place since last fall. About 1,000 claims have been processed through Fast Track, she said.
“Fast Track helps us to be more efficient while ensuring that claims are paid to the rightful owner,” Atkinson said.