Your BBB is warning consumers to be cautious of scam artists attempting to build profit off of the newest list of unclaimed properties published by the Maryland Comptroller, which has appeared in various Maryland newspapers in April.
Scam artists have been mailing letters to Maryland residents congratulating them on the discovery of unclaimed property. The letter goes on to state an advance fee is required to recover the unclaimed property. While you may have unclaimed property in your family you can profit on, no fees are required and you can do a simple search online for free at www.marylandtaxes.com or www.missingmoney.com.
Persons who believe they might be a match can call the Unit of Unclaimed Property at 410-767-1700 or 1-800-782-7382. Claim forms can be downloaded from the Web site, www.marylandtaxes.com, or can be requested over the phone.
The list, which was published in newspapers from April 3 until April 23 2008, lists 66,000 accounts worth over $46 million.
The Comptroller's Office also searches for owners of unclaimed funds by matching files with Internal Revenue Service and state Motor Vehicle Administration records. They also set up computers at the Maryland State Fair and other events to allow people to check the agency's files of unclaimed funds.
According to the government, unclaimed property is defined as any financial asset with no activity by its owner for an extended period of time. This includes unclaimed wages or commissions; savings and checking accounts; stock dividends, insurance proceeds, underlying shares, customer deposits or overpayments; certificates of deposit, credit balances, refunds, money orders and safe deposit box contents. People may lose track of their assets for different reasons, including:
- the relocation of their place of business or residence
- a check is accidentally discarded, lost or forgotten
- a rightful owner dies and relatives are unaware of a bank account, safe deposit box, stock or other property
- a clerical error occurs at the owner's previous place of employment or financial institution that alters the property owner's name or address and which results in returned mail.