Over 5000 financial institutions turned unclaimed cash and property over to the State of Iowa in 2015. The office of State Treasurer Michael Fitzgerald is where all that money and unclaimed property is deposited.
“We had $34 million turned over to the State of Iowa and we processed over 18,000 claims for people to get money back,” Fitzgerald says, “and $16 million was returned to the rightful owners.”
Fitzgerald started “The Great Iowa Treasure Hunt” more than 30 years ago. His office creates a list of all the unclaimed property turned over to his office. People then can search for their name to see if there’s any cash from an old bank account or safe deposit box they forgot about. Fitzgerald says the amount of unclaimed property seems to “grow and grow” each year.
“I always thought with computers it would be less and less, but it seems to make matters worse,” Fitzgerald says. “You know all these juxtaposing numbers and a mobile society and such.”
Money that goes unclaimed for seven years gets deposited in the state treasury. The Treasurer’s Office is required to sell jewelry, coins and other tangible property at a public auction after it’s been on the list for seven years. Fitzgerald uses eBay to sell the items.
A new state law that took effect six months ago did away with the requirement that Iowa businesses turn over any unclaimed gift cards to the state.