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Treasurer returned $1 billion in unclaimed property over past five years

Wednesday, Aug 5, 2020

* I checked and the amount of unclaimed property returned by the treasurer’s office during the previous five years was $700 million. So, this is a significant increase…

A record-shattering $1 billion in unclaimed property has been returned to Illinoisans and their families in the past five years, Illinois State Treasurer Michael Frerichs said today.

It is the most that has been returned in any five-year period in the program’s 58-year history.

“Government needs to work smarter. The numbers show our improvements to the unclaimed property program created a faster, better, and more efficient service,” Frerichs said.

Unclaimed property refers to property or accounts within financial institutions or companies in which there typically has been no activity for several years. In Illinois, the state treasurer is tasked with safeguarding unclaimed property, such as unpaid life insurance benefits, forgotten bank accounts and unused rebate cards. The state treasurer is legally required to return the property to the rightful owners no matter how long it takes.

Frerichs inherited a cumbersome, paper-driven system upon becoming treasurer in 2015. The $1 billion milestone was possible because Frerichs prioritized changes in technology, efficiency and state law to streamline the unclaimed property process, which also is known as I Cash. Key to these enhancements was securing bi-partisan support to change state law. This included enacting Money Match, which allows the automatic processing of one-owner claims of up to $2,000 when records confirm the claimant’s identity and connection to the property.

“While $1 billion is a significant achievement that only could be obtained by working collaboratively with our staff and state lawmakers, it is the stories behind the unclaimed property that I find most memorable,” Frerichs said.

    • A Chicago-area woman adopted two children after their family perished in an auto accident. Years later, the state treasurer’s office obtained more than one hundred thousand dollars for the woman after auditors discovered an unpaid life insurance policy.

    • A Chicago man, World War II Army veteran and life-long bachelor left nearly $2 million to several Chicago-area philanthropies. These monies were from an investment account that languished because the decorated soldier’s surviving family members passed away before he did.

    • The Carver Community Center in Peoria received $19,000 from The (Richard) Pryor Foundation. The legendary comic is a Peoria native who spent time at the Carver Center as a youth.

    • Orphans of the Storm animal shelter in Riverwoods received $19,000, nearly all of it from the life insurance policy of a Rolling Meadows woman who worked as a secretary at Ford Motor Company.

    • Monument of Faith Evangelistic Church in Chicago received $38,000 from a church member’s life insurance policy.

An estimated one-in-four people in Illinois have unclaimed property. Currently, there is more than $3.5 billion in the unclaimed property fund. Individuals can search the state treasurer’s database for their name or the name of their business or non profit Because unclaimed property is surrendered to the treasurer’s office twice each year, it is recommended individuals check the database twice each year; for example, on a birthday and six months later.

The guy takes this program seriously.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - flea - Wednesday, Aug 5, 20 @ 11:29 am:

    Treasurer Frerichs is the real deal.

  2. - Excitable Boy - Wednesday, Aug 5, 20 @ 11:31 am:

    - The guy takes this program seriously. -

    And he’s not just using it for press pops like Rutherford. Good work.

  3. - bowwow - Wednesday, Aug 5, 20 @ 11:38 am:

    My Dad passed away years ago. The agency said he had a small sum of unclaimed property. Process to get the money would have cost the heirs money for an attorney so we said forget it.

  4. - Squints - Wednesday, Aug 5, 20 @ 11:39 am:

    He really stands Tall for Illinois.

  5. - Oswego Willy - Wednesday, Aug 5, 20 @ 11:39 am:

    If you want a new job, do your current job best.

    Doing good governing makes for good politics.

  6. - Candy Dogood - Wednesday, Aug 5, 20 @ 11:53 am:

    No bar is too high for Treasurer Frerichs. No goal is out of reach.

    ===an unpaid life insurance policy.===

    It’s been a few years, but another hat tip is owed for our elected officials enacting legislation that requires life insurance policy issuers to actively seek out beneficiaries. That’s much better than when the Treasurer’s FAQs office used to tell people to hire a fee based service to look for policies that may have been in their loved one’s name.

  7. - NIU Grad - Wednesday, Aug 5, 20 @ 11:54 am:

    Remember when Rutherford was citing his press pops for this program as one of the top reasons that he should be Governor? Good times.

  8. - Lester Holt’s Mustache - Wednesday, Aug 5, 20 @ 12:13 pm:

    The wife and I got letters last week from Frerichs’ office, claiming that we both have unclaimed property on file (less than $150 value). Neither of us have any idea what it could possibly be, but we were happy they took the trouble to contact us about it. With the value being that low, I’m surprised they even bothered.

  9. - 1st Ward - Wednesday, Aug 5, 20 @ 12:35 pm:

    Comcast owes me $12 from my college days I learned a few weeks back browsing the treasurers site.

  10. - West Side Don - Wednesday, Aug 5, 20 @ 12:38 pm:

    Frerichs is a breath of fresh air of reasonableness, tact, and attention to detail In today’s era of bluster and social media culture wars

  11. - North Shore Joe - Wednesday, Aug 5, 20 @ 12:39 pm:

    Frerichs playing the long game, above-board version of Willie Wilson cash hand outs.

  12. - RNUG - Wednesday, Aug 5, 20 @ 1:00 pm:

    Frerichs has done a good job with the ptogram. It’s much easier to find stuff now.

    I suspect some of that money will never be claimed. I noticed a couple of years ago my out of state brother-in-law had maybe $50 waiting to be claimed. I told him about it; he looked and said it wasn’t worth doing the paperwork to claim it.

  13. - No Longer A Lurker - Wednesday, Aug 5, 20 @ 1:20 pm:

    Yep, he takes it seriously. However the hoops to get unclaimed property is a bit much. I guess that’s for everyone’s protection which is a good thing. I’ve filed paperwork twice now to get a small sum. My father passed 7 years ago and it might take me 7 years to get the money. LOL

  14. - Interim Retiree - Wednesday, Aug 5, 20 @ 1:50 pm:

    Much easier in Illinois than Wisconsin. My father’s siblings passed away & there is (very) little money “available” for him as an heir in the Badger state; however, the hoops are crazy for a paltry sum. Small amount in Illinois was returned comparatively w/ease.

  15. - thechampaignlife - Wednesday, Aug 5, 20 @ 2:37 pm:

    There are some interesting stats about I Cash at It looks like there was a huge spike in unclaimed properties received by the state in 2018 and claims paid out jumped 50% last year. I am curious if the total value held by the state is trending up or down.

  16. - Joe Bidenopolous - Wednesday, Aug 5, 20 @ 4:26 pm:

    How do y’all see the exact amounts? Whenever I look, it just says ‘under $100′ or ‘over $100″

    There are multiple items in there for my parents, who are both deceased. Maybe 5 total, all under $100. Have to get death certificates and all that…not Wirth the hassle

  17. - Commisar Gritty - Wednesday, Aug 5, 20 @ 5:50 pm:

    Shoutouts to Jim Wozny in the Chi office for his fantastic help to the legislative offices who reach out to constituents to let them know about bigger claims.

  18. - Stuff Happens - Wednesday, Aug 5, 20 @ 8:21 pm:

    Mine was supposedly returned too. It just ‘disappeared’ after I claimed it and never got here. Nobody knows where it went.

    So I wonder what ‘returned’ means in that statistic — returned to whom?

  19. - Still waiting - Thursday, Aug 6, 20 @ 8:51 am:

    Maybe he should put as much effort into paying state income tax refunds which is claimed property…been waiting for several months.

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