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For immediate release
December 18, 2012                                              

PA Treasury Strikes Major Consumer Protection Win with Rebate Settlement of Almost $2 Million, says Treasurer McCord

Consumers owed rebates from manufacturers, retail stores encouraged to contact Treasury’s Unclaimed Property Return Team

Harrisburg – A landmark settlement between the Pennsylvania Treasury and Parago, Inc. will make nearly $2 million in unclaimed promotional rebates from past retail purchases available to consumers, State Treasurer Rob McCord announced today.

Parago is a Texas-based company that processes and pays promotional rebates to consumers on behalf of national consumer product manufacturers, retailers, and telecommunication service providers. Its clients include Staples, Home Depot, Verizon and Verizon Wireless, and General Electric, among others.

“This is a major win for Pennsylvania’s consumers. A number of other states recently settled with Parago for less than what was owed to their citizens,” said Treasurer McCord. “We held out because I believe our consumers are due 100% of what they are owed. As a result, we have this landmark settlement, and Pennsylvanians will soon be able to claim nearly $2 million in rebates that never made it into their hands.”

The unclaimed rebates were the result of what is termed “retained slippage” in the industry. When rebates went unclaimed, Parago routinely retained those funds, in exchange for which it offered its clients – referred to as “downstream companies” – a discount on processing fees.

In some cases, unclaimed rebates were returned to downstream companies, but Treasurer McCord noted his department intends to pursue those funds, too, on behalf of Pennsylvania’s citizens.

“If consumers are promised a rebate, they should receive that rebate. It shouldn’t go to pad the bottom line of a company that promised it as a sales incentive in the first place,” said Treasurer McCord.

Under the terms of the settlement agreement, Parago will report $1.95 million in rebates to Treasury’s Bureau of Unclaimed Property in installments over the next three years. Parago will accompany each installment with a report that includes the names of persons owed rebates, their last known address, a description of the property and when it became available, and a record of Parago’s last attempted interaction with the rightful owner.

The agreement also stipulates Parago will continue to report property to Pennsylvania annually in accordance with the state’s unclaimed property law. The company will also consent to a state audit if it fails to make such a report by the annual April 15 deadline.

“As in past years, retailers will use rebates to entice shoppers into making major purchases this holiday season,” said Treasurer McCord. “This agreement should ensure Parago does not find itself in a similar position in the future. Consequently, this should translate into better service to consumers.”

If you believe you may be owed a rebate from Parago or one of its clients, please call 1-800-222-2046, Monday through Friday, 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., to provide your name to one of Treasury’s Unclaimed Property Return Team members.

“If you think you may be among the thousands of people owed a rebate, please contact Treasury,” urged Treasurer McCord. “As always, we will endeavor to find your property and process your claim.”

Generally speaking, unclaimed property is any financial asset that has been left with a business or organization without activity or contact for at least one year, including bank accounts, uncashed payroll checks, accounts payable or receivable checks, credit balances, expired gift cards, savings and checking accounts, escrow accounts, money orders, travelers checks, utility refunds, insurance proceeds, stocks and bonds, and the contents of safe deposit boxes.

Treasury’s agreement with Parago builds on Treasurer McCord’s work to improve compliance with Pennsylvania’s unclaimed property law on the part of “holders,” or those companies and organizations that hold property which belongs to others. The McCord Treasury has increased enforcement efforts, established partnerships with different industries, and worked with the holder community. As a result, unclaimed property collections increased $64.7 million, or 38%, in fiscal year 2011-12 as compared to the Treasurer’s first fiscal year in office (FY 2008-09). All told, Treasury has collected nearly $834.8 million since January 2009.

For more information on Pennsylvania’s Unclaimed Property Program or to search for property via Treasury’s free database, visit www.patreasury.gov or call 1-800-222-2046.

Media contact: Michael Smith, 717-787-2991 or news@patreasury.gov

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