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Website reunites owners, unclaimed property

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By Christi Milligan

The Delaware Department of Finance is touting the success of its new website after processing an unprecedented number of claims in a single month.

According to State Escheator David Gregor, 8,801 claims at a cash value of $10.7 million have been processed since the site went live on Oct. 30, and it is close to eclipsing the number of total claims processed during all of last year.

“I think it’s pretty outstanding — we’re setting all-time records here with claims,” said Gregor, who also serves as the deputy secretary of finance. “Right now it’s the most claims we’ve ever had filed in November.

The department processed 10,991 claims in FY 2015 in cash and shares for a total of almost $96 million.

Since July 2013, the department has processed over 23,000 claims — successfully reuniting citizens with $233.9 million in previously unclaimed cash and security values thanks to the introduction of new processing systems.

“That’s a lot for a little state,” according to Gregor, who said the Department of Finance has had plans to add web access to its system.

Prior to the new website, claims were initiated through the U.S. Postal Service or by e-mail. The searchable database allows users to search their name and identify property, then submit the claim for verification and review.

According to Gregor, unclaimed property can include everything from accounts and other financial instruments, usually intangible, being held at corporations, financial institutions, financial intermediaries, courts, and life insurance companies, that have gone dormant for a specified period of time based on property type.

Common types of unclaimed property include: checking and savings accounts, uncashed wage and payroll checks, uncashed stock dividends and stock certificates, insurance payments, utility deposits, customer deposits, accounts payable, credit balances, refund checks, money orders, traveler’s checks, mineral proceeds, court deposits, uncashed death benefit checks and life insurance proceeds.

It does not include real estate or vehicles.

“One objective is to expedite process,” said Gregor, who noted that many people use the web to transact business, including filing tax returns or making purchases. “That’s the expectation they have and what we’ve done is update the meat and potatoes of our system to process both deposits from companies and claims from individuals.”

“There’s a misconception generally is that the state has taken their money,” said Gregor. “We are just a custodian. We have an obligation to reunite those people with their assets.”

Currently, there are 147,000 owners of unclaimed property in Delaware.

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