More than $140 million in unclaimed money belonging to B.C. residents is currently sitting unclaimed at the B.C. Unclaimed Property Society (BCUPS).
Every year the society searches for the rightful owner of the unclaimed funds on all accounts greater than $200.
Right now, there is approximately $140,255,000 at the society, with approximately $5,585,000 being received in 2016. The society paid approximately $1,219,000 to the rightful owners in 2016.
When BCUPS was set up in 2003, there was approximately $75 million in unclaimed dormant accounts in the government’s database that was transferred to the society. Since then, it has received more than $64 million in unclaimed funds, paying out almost $12 million in total.
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.
READ MORE: How to check if you have unclaimed money in a Canadian bank
The society has access to several proprietary databases to try and locate potential owners and staff regularly make presentations to financial institutions to remind companies to transfer dormant accounts to BCUPS so the rightful owners can be found.
“All of the funds to the B.C. Unclaimed Property Society come from things that are provincially regulated,” said Alena Levitz, executive director of BCUPS.
Residents can check if they have any unclaimed money through the BCUPS website and funds can be claimed by completing a verification process.
“If you are a match, we will issue you a cheque within 10 to 12 business days,” said Levitz. “We also don’t charge any fees.”
“The funds are always available to the rightful owner. We have funds going back to the late 1880s and they’re certainly still with us.”
Each year, a portion of unclaimed funds held by BCUPS is transferred to the Vancouver Foundation to be used for charitable purposes. Since 2004, BCUPS has transferred more than $31 million to the foundation.
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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-With files from Anne Drewa