BOISE, Idaho – The Idaho Treasurer’s Office is warning of a scam targeting unclaimed property owners.

The email or letter looks official, and it contains an attention-grabbing message: The state is holding on to your unclaimed property, which may be worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. All you have to do is pay a fee upfront or provide your personal information and the money is yours. But the letters and emails are the work of scammers, not state officials.

“These scams are just rampant,” said David Milby, director of the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators (NAUPA), which represents state unclaimed property programs. “The email from the public we’ve been getting about this has increased tenfold in the past year.”

Some scammers pretend they work for NAUPA and have even used its letterhead to make their pitch, the treasurer’s office says. Besides costing victims money, consumer advocates say this kind of fraud diminishes public trust in state agencies that handle unclaimed property and makes it harder for them to do their jobs.

Milby said no one keeps data on the number of complaints states get about unclaimed property scams. But he said he received hundreds of emails last year from people reporting they had been contacted by a fraudster. “You get to the point where people don’t know what’s real and what’s not real,” he said.

The phony letter, which is posted on NAUPA’s website, says it is from an “unclaimed property adjustor” who works for the association. It uses information about unclaimed property that is cut and pasted from the organization’s website and refers to federal statutes and IRS rules. The letter explains that the recipient is the second-place winner of a sweepstakes award worth hundreds of thousands of dollars that is now unclaimed property.

To check if you have unclaimed property the service is always free and requires no contract. Visit yourmoney.idaho.gov and search your name.

Source: Idaho Treasurer’s Office