Since our original website went up giving you the ability to search for unclaimed property in 2003, we’ve seen the amounts of people claiming and the amounts of money we give back steadily climbing every year. And we don’t expect that to change in 2011. In fact, we already turned in a stellar month of returning money back to Wisconsinites…the 4th largest return of cash in office history: $3,432,557!
Let’s put this in perspective – our largest month of returns in OST history was $5,185,680 in November 2010. Last year, we broke all records and gave back the most ever: $32,836,258 on 33,167 claims. On average, our office is returning more than $2.5 million a month while working on 1,500 to 3,000 claims. That’s a lot of hard work from a very small but very dedicated staff.
Despite those numbers, there are sill plenty of people out there who don’t understand what unclaimed property actually is and what we do with it.
The Unclaimed Property Unit is in charge of more than $350 MILLION in unclaimed funds. This is money that people who live or have lived in Wisconsin have forgotten or lost or didn’t even know they had. By federal law, “holders” of this money (employers, insurance companies, utilities, banks, etc.) have to turn that money over to OST and Claims Specialists here try to help get that money to its rightful owners. Let’s say you worked in Wisconsin and moved and forgot a paycheck. We are holding it. Let’s say your parents got you an insurance policy when you were a child but forgot to give it to you…those funds have demutualized and were supposed to go to you. We are holding it. Let’s say you bought a new cell phone and got a rebate but never cashed the check. We are holding it. We also hold the contents of Safe Deposit boxes. Banks turn them over to us after 5 years of non-payment of rent. We hold onto the box for 3 more years then sell any of the contents that have commercial value on EBay. We hold an auction every month. The money earned goes right back to the state in the name of that property owner…waiting to be claimed. Make sure you visit our website and search for your name!
When I ran for State Treasurer, I made it a mission to make changes here in Madison that would return the power of State Government to the people. Just after I took over the Office of State Treasurer January 3rd, I decided I wanted to try something new here…something new that really shouldn’t be. That is, being open about what is happening in State Government. While the Office of State Treasurer (shortened from now on to OST) fulfills 3 major duties within the state, I want to let all the people of Wisconsin know I’m here keeping on eye on how your money is being spent, why it’s being spent that way…and sometimes why it shouldn’t!
I’ll be using this blog as well as other new media/social media tools to “keep you in the loop”! I firmly believe that social media is what helped me get elected and it is the best way for me to communicate to all of you.
While I will still be talking about Unclaimed Property, EdVest and The Local Government Investment Pool on this blog, I want to do so much more. I will be taking a look at all aspects of State Government I feel need to have a light shining on them.
Why? Because it’s your money! Whether it’s the State Budget or State’s Investment process or even how you can use state lands FOR FREE to go hunting, I want to make sure you understand the process and get the most out of the State you love.
Come back often as I ramp up my plan to educate and inform. You have many ways you can follow the Office of State Treasurer and me. There’s the Wisconsin Unclaimed Property Facebook Page, there’s the EdVest Facebook Page and my Facebook Page. The office is on Twitter with the WI State Treasury Page and I also have a Twitter account – Treasurer Schuller! I’m also gearing up for video blogs that will be posted here and on our YouTube Page.
This is also a great forum for you! Let me know of topics you’d like more information on when it comes to how Madison spends your money. Send e-mail suggestions to OSTSocialMedia@wisconsin.gov or drop me a message through Twitter or Facebook! While I might not be able to tackle all the topics sent, I will surely try!
-Wisconsin State Treasurer Kurt Schuller
The Office of the State Treasurer is building a new blog!
Come back soon for our “launch”!