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Another year, another record shattered

Amount returned jumps by $28 million

Published: Tuesday, Jan. 22, 2013 3:00 p.m. CDT
Caption
(Photo submitted)
Illinois State Treasurer Dan Rutherford’s office returned $129 million in cash and assets to its rightful owners, a 27-percent increase over last year.

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — More money in people’s wallets. That’s what happened during Illinois State Treasurer Dan Rutherford’s second year in office as he broke his previous record for returning more cash and assets to owners.

The total returned in 2012 was $129 million, a 27-percent increase over last year.

“I am committed to returning as much money and other assets to the rightful owners as possible,” said Rutherford. “It is the right thing to do for the owners, and it is putting millions of dollars back into the Illinois economy.”

In 2011, Rutherford’s first year in office, the total returned was $101 million, which was a 23-percent increase over 2010.

He credits the new name, I-Cash, and the I-Cash outreach efforts highlighting recent claimants as a large part of the reason for the increase last year.

“Our statewide tour in July announcing I-Cash resonated with Illinoisans and they turned to our website database in droves. That resulted in another double-digit increase in dollars returned, which means more people are finding and claiming assets.”

I-Cash brought several benefits to the Illinois State Treasurer’s Office Unclaimed Property Division (UPD): 

• Name that taps into the popularity of the iPhone, I-PASS, etc.

• Website (Icash.Illinois.gov) gives more credibility as a state government website than the previous address, which ended in .net.

• Website and materials highlight five Illinoisans who claimed money, which puts faces on the I-Cash story

• More user-friendly website.

Calendar year 2011 marked the first time in the program’s history that the amount of returned assets hit the $100 million mark and that level was surpassed in 2012.

“Amounts returned in 2012 ranged anywhere from a couple of dollars all the way up to an individual claim of $9 million,” said Rutherford. “Here in Illinois, one in eight people has something listed in the I-Cash database, and you won’t know if you’ve got something unless you search your name and your relatives’ names.”  

The costs for marketing and supporting the I-Cash program are not paid for with tax dollars; instead, the program is funded through the Unclaimed Property Trust Fund.

Most of the state’s tangible unclaimed property is held in the treasurer’s vault at the Illinois State Capitol, which was used to store the state’s cash, bonds and securities for more than 100 years.

The vault can hold up to 100,000 items in unclaimed property, but it is close to being at maximum capacity. 

I-Cash helps reunite owners with their unclaimed property. UPD currently has $1.7 billion in cash, plus contents from Illinois bank safe deposit boxes that have been abandoned for at least five years.

It is common for people to lose track of their assets when they move or when loved ones pass away.

Businesses and banks are required to turn over unclaimed accounts to the treasurer’s office.

Some examples of unclaimed property currently held by the treasurer’s office include the following:

• Money from inactive savings and checking accounts 

• Unpaid wages or commissions 

• Stocks, bonds and mutual funds 

• Money orders and bill overpayments 

• Paid-up life insurance policies 

• Safe deposit box contents.

To search the I-Cash database, go to Icash.Illinois.gov. The website is updated weekly to reflect new properties remitted to the office.

You can contact the Unclaimed Property Division by calling 217-785-6998, although searches cannot be completed by telephone, or by emailing info@Icash.Illinois.gov. 

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