Are you owed some of the $150 million in unclaimed funds
sitting in dormant accounts in B.C.?
If you’re looking for some extra cash to get on top of those upcoming holiday bills, that elusive money may be closer than you think.
In B.C., there is an estimated $150 million sitting in dormant accounts waiting to be claimed.
Money held in these unclaimed accounts, which includes long-forgotten credit union accounts, unpaid wages, overpayments to debt collectors, unclaimed proceeds from courts, pension funds, estates and forgotten real estate deposits, are administered by the B.C. Unclaimed Property Society (BCUPS).
BCUPS, a non-profit society created by the provincial government and Vancouver Foundation in 2003, works to reunite people with their forgotten or unclaimed assets. In addition to actively searching for owners of unclaimed property, BCUPS maintains an online public database (unclaimedpropertybc.ca) which people can search to see if they have any unclaimed money waiting for them. If you find an unclaimed account in your name, the funds can be claimed by completing a verification process that firmly establishes the claimant’s identity.
BCUPS does not charge any processing fees to search for or claim outstanding funds, and the Society warns residents against paying private companies to do the work for them, saying it can easily be done online through the BCUPS website.
“It’s not uncommon for people to lose track of their assets,” points out Alena Levitz, Executive Director of BCUPS. “People often move without forwarding their mail for more than a year, neglect to pick up a final paycheque, forget about a security deposit or they simply pass away without their heirs knowing much about their finances.”
“The good news is there’s no statute of limitations on unclaimed property. Your money will remain your property no matter how long it’s been idle. We actually have one unclaimed account dating back to 1859.”
Last year, BCUPS returned approximately $1,219,000 in unclaimed funds to the rightful owners. The single largest unclaimed property payout by the Society was $357,262 made in 2011. And largest dormant account in the BCUPS database waiting to be claimed is worth a whopping $1.9 million.
But those are the extremes, most unclaimed accounts hold between $300 to $500 on average. Still, that’s a tidy sum to put in your pocket when you don’t expect it.
Unclaimed money can inadvertently sit on a company’s books for years. Under the British Columbia Unclaimed Property Act, companies and organizations have a legal responsibility to identify and locate the owners of dormant accounts. If unsuccessful, they are required after a specified period of time to transfer these unclaimed funds to BCUPS, which holds unclaimed property in trust indefinitely as the custodian for the rightful owners.
“The amount of money designed as unclaimed has actually grown by more than 60 percent over the last six years as more companies and organizations become aware of their legal responsibility to get dormant accounts off their books,” says Levitz.
Last year, BCUPS received approximately $5,585,000 from financial institutions, companies, courts, tax offices and the Public Guardian and Trustee of British Columbia.
Unclaimed property administered by BCUPS includes dormant credit union accounts, unclaimed wages, outstanding insurance payments, court payments, intestate estates (death without a will), overpayments to debt collectors, and outstanding real estate deposits. It does not include dormant bank accounts which are administered by the Bank of Canada.
Follow the B.C. Unclaimed Property Society on LinkedIn.