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The TRAP Behind Websites With "INSTANT" Searches for Unclaimed Property or Money

By Thomas Tuke

There is no questioning that the amount of unclaimed money or property being held by both State and Federal agencies is staggering and growing each year – current estimate is believed to be in excess of $40 BILLION.

On the prowl for new sources of revenue, cash-strapped States are pouncing on UNCLAIMED PROPERTY by shortening the ‘dormancy’ period of most abandoned property and strictly enforcing their statues for holders or companies to transfer over these funds to the State’s custody. If a state audit discovers the company has been laxed or under reported these funds face stiff fines. As a result in the past few years, millions of unclaimed accounts worth over a $ billion are transferred to the States each year.

With all that said, the emergence of unclaimed property or Money web sites have appeared on the Internet hoping to gain from such. Some are legit and do offer a valuable service and information to assist one in locating an unclaimed property or lost asset. However, many offer a useless, misleading and costly service especially those that market themselves as “FREE” and “INSTANT” searches.

Here is the 3-prong trap and how it works:

There is NO National database for unclaimed property accounts. Every State has its own Unclaimed Property Division and each Federal agency handles its own unclaimed accounts. All of the former and many of the latter have online databases for one to search.

The web sites have collected a few millions names with unclaimed property accounts from States’ online databases that can be readily done with software that converts the online information into their own database. With more than maybe over 100 million unclaimed property accounts nationwide, processing only 5 million accounts, their database will likely have 90%+ of all American last/surnames.

One is asked to insert your name into their search box…and the “Instant’ result says there is i.e.) $25,000 of unclaimed money in your name. Well, there can be many/hundreds of others with your name and their software generates varies spellings or numerous first initials to inflate the dollar amount. I.e.) if your name was Cathy Stevens, the dollar amount would include – C. Stevens, Kathy Stevens, K. Stevens etc. trying to lure you into subscribing.

The 2nd tier of the trap is more serious. They purport that they normally charge i.e.) $29.95 for a single search, but a special promotion allows unlimited searches for 30 days for only $12.95 – a deal right?! First of all, to conduct a thorough search, one needs to be checking regularly to find any lost asset. Their database is maybe 5% of all accounts and likely never refreshed – too timely and expensive. And no incentive, they have 90% of all surnames.

It gets better/worse. If one does not read the terms and conditions, you will be charged $29.95 at the end of the 30 day period if you do not cancel the subscription. Based on one’s credit card billing cycle, one may not see the second charge (assuming you forgot to cancel) in your statement until still another $29.95 is charged to your credit card.

Last, some of these services purport a 100% money back guarantee. One gets his subscription back if the State says the unclaimed account found in their database is not yours? Their database information was lifted from the State’s database. The information that accompanies the unclaimed account will definitely tell one if it is yours. One only gets a refund if the State refuses to return your rightful account. That is not legally possible. The guarantee is worthless. Plus any written correspondence to the State could take 4-6 months to confirm that the unclaimed account was never yours.

Here are the sites that offer such services. They mask themselves under various URLs, but appear to be the same according to ‘Whois’.

www.cashunclaimed |
www.cashclaim | | | |

There are sites out here that offer a valuable service for assisting one in locating unclaimed or lost assets just be cautious of these common and costly traps. The only thorough way to locate one's unclaimed property is to regularly check with all databases for the States in which one has ever lived or worked in, as well as, other Federal databases.

Thomas Tuke is the CEO of American Refund Services specializing in assisting others locate their unclaimed accounts without paying a Finder’s Fee.

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