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Pa. treasurer against changes to unclaimed property act
The Uniform Law Commission has proposed changes to its Unclaimed Property Act that Pennsylvania Treasurer Timothy Reese believes could weaken consumer protections.
Reese filed comments with the commission against six of the proposed provisions, according to a department news release.
“The fundamental purpose of unclaimed property laws are to protect consumers and reunite them with property that rightfully belongs to them,” Reese said in the release. “However, these changes would limit and weaken consumer rights and, if used to revise state laws, would make it harder for consumers to reclaim their property."
Reese's comments focus on six provisions: imposing "arbitrary" time limits on initiating actions and proceedings against businesses holding unclaimed property and failing to report it; restricting the use of third-party auditors and examiners to determine what unclaimed property businesses are holding; not requiring insurance companies to use and consult the Social Security Death Master File (DMF) as proof of death; limiting the use of statistical estimates during auditing when business records are incomplete, inaccurate or non-existent; obligating unclaimed property administrators to hold unclaimed securities and imposing liability for market value increases for unclaimed property; and requiring unclaimed property administrators to indemnify businesses holding property in the event of a breach of confidential information, without determination of fault or negligence.
While the ULC’s legislation is nonbinding, it is often used by legislators as the model for state laws, according to the release.
The state Treasury serves as the "custodian" for unclaimed property after it has been dormant for three years, according to spokesman Scott Sloat, and unclaimed money will be put in the state's general fund after that.
Unclaimed property can refer to items including abandoned bank accounts, uncashed checks or actual physical property.
Last year, the department collected a record $672.2 million in unclaimed property, which represented a 126 percent increase over 2014. In total, the Treasury currently holds approximately $2.5 billion in unclaimed property statewide, according to a previous news release.
Sloat previously said approximately $2.1 million was returned to York County residents last year, with $8.8 million collected in 2014.
Citizens can search for any unclaimed property that might be their's on the department's website at www.patreasury.gov.