Do you have any unclaimed money? Website helps you find out

File photo of Canadian money. Canadian Press Images/Denis Beaumont

VANCOUVER – In B.C. there is an estimated $100 million in forgotten funds waiting to be claimed.

Last year the not-for-profit B.C. Unclaimed Property Society (BCUPS) returned $922,879 to claimants, and this year they have already paid out $1.2 million to recipients. However, they have already received more than $5 million in dormant accounts this year.

Thousands of B.C. residents have forgotten funds in long-forgotten credit union accounts, unpaid wages, over-payments to debt collectors, unclaimed proceeds from courts, pension funds, estates and forgotten real estate deposits.

“For many people, particularly seniors, finding forgotten money in a dormant account can be a life-changing experience” says Alena Levitz, executive director of the B.C. Unclaimed Property Society says in a press release.  “As a not-for-profit Society, BCUPS holds unclaimed property as the custodian for rightful owners under the Unclaimed Property Act. We work with companies looking to get dormant assets off their books, search for and return funds from dormant accounts to the rightful owners. This service is free for companies holding unclaimed funds and claimants searching for long-lost money.”

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Residents can check if they have any unclaimed money through the BCUPS website and funds can be claimed by completing a verification process. You can also try this direct link to their search page (if it says ‘page unavailable, try clicking on the ‘homepage’ hyperlink as it appears a lot of traffic has crashed the site). If it still doesn’t work, try again in a little while as it appears their website keeps going down due to volume.

In 2013, BCUPS received $8,460,201 in unclaimed funds from financial institutions, companies, courts, tax offices and the Public Guardian and Trustee of British Columbia, representing 18,026 individual unclaimed properties. Most accounts hold about $200 to $300 but the largest unclaimed property payout was $357,262 in 2011.

“Accounts become dormant for a number of reasons,” says Levitz. “People move without leaving a forwarding address, neglect to pick up a final paycheque, forget about a security deposit or they simply pass away.”

In a release, the BCUPS says technically, an account is “deemed to be dormant when a prescribed period of time has transpired with no activity, ranging from a year to 10 years depending on the type of account involved.  Under B.C. law, credit unions, debt collection agencies, real estate agencies, companies in liquidation, municipal and provincial courts and municipalities, which are classified as mandatory holders, are required to make a “reasonable effort” to identify forgotten account holders, before transferring these funds to BCUPS.”

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Other organizations with funds such as insurance policies, brokerage accounts and closed pension plans are encouraged to voluntarily transfer the money to BCUPS if the rightful owners cannot be found.

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