Treasury division returns $17.9 million to rightful owners
CHARLESTON – State Treasurer John Perdue’s Unclaimed Property Division returned a record $17.9 million to rightful owners in fiscal year 2020, despite the challenges of an ongoing pandemic.
The amount returned to individuals broke the previous fiscal year record of $17.7 million, set two years ago. The Unclaimed Property Division exceeded that amount in FY 2020, despite the mid-March upheaval brought on by COVID-19. From then until the end of the fiscal year on June 30, office staffers worked staggered shifts in the office and processed many claims from home.
“We take the return of unclaimed property seriously,” said Treasurer Perdue. “It’s the people’s money and they should have it. I am proud of my staff, especially during this time of a pandemic. Even though we have modified how we do business, we are still serving the public and doing it with a strong commitment to process claims quickly and efficiently.”
Just as fiscal year 2020 ended, the division unveiled a new unclaimed property website and management system. Now, people submitting for unclaimed property online can upload documents directly to the website and track a claim throughout the entire process. Other new features include mobile compatibility for smartphones and tablets, improved online reporting for unclaimed property holders, and stronger security protections for both holders and claimants.
“Our early feedback on the website and management system is phenomenal,” Treasurer Perdue said. “We hope to set a new record next year as more West Virginians use this updated, safe and transparent system.”
Unclaimed property is any financial asset from which a person has become unintentionally separated, such as a final paycheck, a forgotten utility deposit or abandoned safe deposit box contents. It also includes life insurance.
Out of the $17.9 million returned in FY 2020, $1.4 million went to life insurance proceeds. In 2012, Perdue filed a lawsuit against more than 60 insurance companies in West Virginia to ensure they were turning over unclaimed insurance policy proceeds. The case eventually made its way to the state Supreme Court of Appeals, which unanimously sided with Perdue.
“We’re trying to serve everyone,” Treasurer Perdue said. “It’s wonderful to see people reunited with money they didn’t even know they were due.”
West Virginia’s Unclaimed Property program currently holds approximately 2.25 million accounts worth $308 million. During his time as State Treasurer, Perdue has returned more than $225 million in unclaimed property to rightful owners. There is never a charge to search for or claim property. People should visit www.wvtreasury.com to conduct a free unclaimed property search.