For Immediate Release
July 7, 2016
PA Treasurer Reese Says Proposed Changes to Unclaimed Property Act Could Hurt Consumers
Harrisburg, PA – Pennsylvania Treasurer Timothy Reese has filed comments with the Uniform Law Commission (ULC) arguing that proposed changes to unclaimed property laws could weaken consumer protections and make it harder to return property that has been lost or abandoned. The ULC is meeting this week in Vermont to consider revisions to the Uniformed Unclaimed Property Act.
“The fundamental purpose of unclaimed property laws are to protect consumers and reunite them with property that rightfully belongs to them,” said Treasurer Reese. “However these changes would limit and weaken consumer rights and, if used to revise state laws, would make it harder for consumers to reclaim their property.”
Pennsylvania Treasurer, Timothy Reese
While the ULC’s legislation is non-binding, it is often used by legislators as the model for state laws.
Treasurer Reese’s concerns focus on six provisions that would place limits on property owner rights or obstruct state administrative enforcement efforts. These include:
- Imposing arbitrary time limits on initiating actions and proceedings against businesses that hold unclaimed property and fail to report it;
- Restricting the use of third-party auditors and examiners to determine what unclaimed property businesses are holding;
- Failing to require insurance companies to use and consult the Social Security Death Master File as proof of death;
- Limiting the use of statistical estimates during auditing when business records are incomplete, inaccurate or non-existent;
- Obligating unclaimed property administrators to hold unclaimed securities for a minimum of three years and imposing liability for market value increases for unclaimed property;
- Requiring unclaimed property administrators to indemnify businesses holding property in the event of a breach of confidential information, without determination of fault or negligence.
In 2015, PA Treasury collected approximately $670 million dollars in unclaimed property from businesses and returned more than $120 million to property owners. Under Treasurer Reese’s leadership, PA Treasury has advocated for unclaimed property laws at the national level and earlier this year initiated litigation involving approximately $10 billion in unclaimed property funds that Delaware wrongly collected. Twenty-three states have filed similar lawsuits and they are currently pending before the U.S. Supreme Court.
Click here to read the comments in their entirety.
Media contact: Scott Sloat, 717-695-1789 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Pennsylvania Treasury is an independent department of state government led by the state treasurer, who is elected every four years. The department's primary duty is to safeguard and manage the state's public funds. It invests state money to generate income on behalf of the citizens of Pennsylvania, reviews and processes payments for state government agencies, and serves as custodian of more than $100 billion in state funds. Key Treasury programs include Unclaimed Property, PA 529 College Savings Program and the Board of Finance and Revenue.