As a division of the Treasury, the Division of Unclaimed Property’s mission is to protect the property interests of citizens through efforts to promote compliance with the Unclaimed Property Act and Escheats Generally Statute and return property to the rightful owner.
Frequently Asked Questions:
- How do I search for Unclaimed Property?
- How do I file a claim for property?
- Are there any fees charged for filing a claim?
- How does the Unclaimed Property system determine a match with the information I provide during the search?
- How long do I have to file a claim?
- What kinds of funds become unclaimed?
- Does unclaimed property include real estate?
- Does unclaimed property include items left in rental storage units and vacant apartments?
- Does unclaimed property include vehicles like boats and cars?
- What do I do if the account is listed as a “joint account?”
- What happens after I file a claim?
- How do I check the status of a claim?
- How long does it take to get unclaimed property returned?
- Why does it take so long to return property to people?
- Can the claim forms be faxed?
- How will I know if you have received the documents I sent?
- I found my property – can I bring my documents in to the Treasury and get a check on the spot?
- Do I need to appear in person to claim my property?
- What forms or identification documents are needed to claim property?
- I’ve been asked to send in photocopies of my driver’s license and SSN. What happens to these documents when you’re done with them?
- Why is the amount on my check different from the property value on my letter/claim form?
- I received a claim form from your office but my name isn’t on the website. Why?
- I still live at the address reported on my unclaimed property. Why was it turned over to Virginia?
- How do I claim Virginia Retirement System (VRS) funds?
- Why do I have to provide so much identification in order to claim my property?
- Can businesses claim property that is in the company’s name?
- Are there any special rules that apply to heirs claiming property?
- I did not receive all the property that was in a safety deposit box. What happened?
- I received a letter from a financial institution or company stating that my property was turned over/escheated to Virginia. What should I do?
- How do I find out about unclaimed U.S. Savings Bonds?
- Why are outstanding stale-dated checks considered unclaimed property?
- My name was listed in the newspaper ad for unclaimed property. What should I do?
- Why does vaMoneySearch.org only list property in a range instead of specific dollar amounts?
- Can someone with Power of Attorney claim on behalf of an owner?
- Can I find out about my unclaimed tax refunds with Virginia’s Unclaimed Property Program?
- What is an acceptable proof of business relationship?
- How do I find out if I have Unclaimed Property in another state?
- How much Unclaimed Property does Virginia have?
- Are any efforts made by the companies or Virginia to find the owners of unclaimed property?
- What if the property is never claimed?
- Who must file an unclaimed property report?
- When should my company file its unclaimed property report in Virginia?
- What are my responsibilities if I am holding unclaimed property?
- What are the cutoff dates for reporting unclaimed property?
- What is a “negative report?”
- Are holders required to file a “negative report?”
- Do I need a holder number in order to report?
- How far back does a business have to report unclaimed property for?
- Is my business obligated to report unclaimed property to other states?
- Do holders need to report small amounts of unclaimed property even when the cost of research and reporting exceeds the property value?
- What is the minimum reportable amount?
- How should securities be reported and transferred?
- Are gift cards reportable? What if my business sold gift cards that were never redeemed?
- Do non-profit organizations have to report unclaimed property?
- Can unclaimed property be reported early?
- Can a business reclaim property that was reported to the Commonwealth or paid to an owner after the money was turned over to the Unclaimed Property Division?
- What are the penalties for failing to report unclaimed property?
- How can I request a filing extension?
- My business discovered a “past due” property and would like to report it without penalty. Does your office accept voluntary disclosures?
- Why does Virginia have an unclaimed property act?
- Does Virginia pay interest on unclaimed property?
- Why am I receiving cash instead of the stock shares that were reported?
- Why am I receiving cash instead of my safety deposit box contents?
- Does a customer have to go to the bank or other business every year to keep the account from becoming unclaimed?
- How can I prevent my property from being turned over to the Commonwealth?
- What does the state do with money while it’s waiting to be claimed?
How do I search for unclaimed property?
To claim your funds, please visit www.vaMoneySearch.org and click the “Click to Claim Your Property” button on the front page. Once on the site, you can create a user name and password to establish your account, which will allow you to search for unclaimed property belonging to you and your family, living or deceased, and any companies or businesses you have the authority to claim property for.
How do I file a claim for property?
If your website search reveals potential property matches, you will be given a set of options including saving your progress online and instructions on how to complete a claim form. These include instructions on completing the paperwork, supplying the necessary documentation, and sending the relevant information to the Unclaimed Property Program.
Are there any fees charged for filing a claim?
No. Claiming property via www.vaMoneySearch.org is a free service offered by the Virginia Department of the Treasury.
How does the Unclaimed Property system determine a match with the information I provide during the search?
The unclaimed property database uses a number of criteria to search for owners, including names, initials, and Social Security Number. It's important to remember that all of the results you see may not belong to you. The Virginia Department of the Treasury will complete a thorough review of your documents prior to approving the claim to ensure that only the rightful owner receives the property in question.
What is Unclaimed Property?
Unclaimed property is all tangible or intangible personal property that has remained unspoken for by its owner for an extended period of time. This includes, but is not limited to, savings and checking accounts, wages or commissions, underlying shares, dividends, customer deposits, refund checks, insurance proceeds, safety deposit boxes, etc.
How long do I have to file a claim?
Indefinitely. The Virginia Department of the Treasury holds all monetary property in perpetuity. Tangible items are auctioned off on a regular basis and the proceeds from the auction are held for the property’s owner indefinitely. The Virginia Department of the Treasury will not store dangerous, flammable, explicit/obscene or illegal items of any nature for any length of time. Paperwork and other documents are stored for a period of 20 years before being destroyed.
What/who is a Fee Finder?
A fee finder is a company or individual offering to locate unclaimed property for others in exchange for a flat fee or percentage of the total property value. The Virginia Unclaimed Property Program encourages people to avoid fee finders and use www.vaMoneySearch.org to claim their property without paying any type of fee.
What does "escheat" mean?
Escheating property is the process of turning over dormant and unclaimed property to the Virginia Department of the Treasury Unclaimed Property Program.
What kinds of funds become unclaimed?
Unclaimed funds can be generated in nearly every financial transaction with a business, financial institution, or government agency. This can include bank accounts, securities and investments, utility deposits, customer refunds, outstanding checks, unpaid wages, money from insurance policies, etc.
Does unclaimed property include real estate?
No. Unclaimed property does not include real estate of any kind.
Does unclaimed property include items left in rental storage units and vacant apartments?
It is possible, but uncommon. Typically, facilities like this have their own preferred method of handling unclaimed property as dictated by the contracts they establish with their customers. Please check with the individual or facility regarding their method of disposing of unclaimed property.
Doe unclaimed property include vehicles like boats and cars?
No. Items of this nature are not reported to the Virginia Department of the Treasury. The Treasury could receive the proceeds from the sale of such property, which would be reported and not auctioned. The Treasury could also potentially have escrow accounts or security deposits related to real estate transaction.
What do I do if the account is listed as a “joint account?”
That depends on the specific circumstances, like the nature of the account, the legal relationship between the owners (i.e., heirs, married couples, or business associates) and numerous other factors.
What happens after I file a claim?
The Virginia Department of the Treasury Unclaimed Property Program will assign your claim to a Claims Analyst who will begin the review and approval process. Your supporting documentation will then be verified and if your claim is approved, you will be issued a check for your funds or be instructed on how to take delivery of any tangible items.
How do I check the status of a claim?
The status of a pending claim can be checked by logging into your account at www.vaMoneySearch.org at any time.
How long does it take to get unclaimed property returned?
Please allow approximately 60 days for processing of your claim. The timeframe may vary given the specific details of your claim, any necessary additional information that is required by the Claims Representative and the nature of the property. Securities requiring transfer and claims on estates can take longer than 60 days.
Why does it take so long to return property to people?
The Virginia Department of the Treasury takes multiple steps to ensure property is being returned to the rightful owner. Each claim must go through a thorough review process in order to make sure that no property is paid out incorrectly.
Can the claim forms be faxed?
Claims for more than $200 may not be faxed. Those claims must be submitted by mail at this time.
How will I know if you have received the documents I sent?
To see if your documents have arrived, you can log in to your account at www.vaMoneySearch.org which will indicate that your documentation has been received. Please allow up to 14 business days for your mail to be delivered and the account status to update.
I found my property – can I bring my documents in to the Treasury and get a check on the spot?
No. Documentation may be delivered to the Treasury building, but mailing or faxing your documentation is preferred. Our offices are in downtown Richmond with very limited parking and building access requires identification. Please make an appointment if you find it necessary to come in person. No claim will be reviewed or approved in person and Treasury DOES NOT issue immediate or on-the-spot payments of any kind under any circumstances.
Do I need to appear in person to claim my property?
No. It is never required to visit the Virginia Department of the Treasury in person in order to claim property.
What forms or identification documents are needed to claim property?
The documention required to support a claim can vary depending on the type of claim and the nature of the property. Please refer to the relevant claim form for your claim type (owner, estate, heir, etc.) to identify the documentation you will need.
I’ve been asked to send in photocopies of my driver’s license and SSN. What happens to these documents when you’re done with them?
All documentation is scanned into a digital server and stored on a secure network. The information you submitted is stored for a period of 4-5 months, depending on the claim, at which point it is destroyed.
Who must file an unclaimed property report?
Any business association in possession of property is subject to Chapter 11.1 of the Code. This includes but is not limited to banking and financial organizations, insurance companies, utilities, corporations, government agencies, partnerships, limited liability companies, trusts and non-profit organizations.
When should my company file its unclaimed property report in Virginia?
You should report and remit your unclaimed property no later than November 1 each year for the filing period of July 1 of the previous year through June 30 of that same year. The exception to this rule is for insurance companies. They must file their reports on May 1 each year for the filing period of January 1 through December 31 of the previous year. If, however, the insurance company’s filing involves demutualization proceeds, those must be filed during the standard filing period of November 1.
What are my responsibilities if I am holding unclaimed property?
Entities holding unclaimed property (holders) must report and remit those properties for safekeeping to the Division of Unclaimed Property by the reporting deadline.
What are the cutoff dates for reporting unclaimed property?
For most entities, a review of the books and records reveals the properties considered to be unclaimed as of June 30th of each year, and those properties must be reported and remitted to the Commonwealth no later than November 1st of each year. For Insurance companies, the review of records must occur as of December 31st and the report and remittance must be done no later than May 1st.
What is a “negative report?”
A “negative report” is one where the holder has no property to report as being unclaimed for the year.
Why is the amount on my check different from the property value on my letter/claim form?
The value may differ based on the number of properties approved for payment in a multi-property claim, whether the property was interest-bearing or not, and the sale price of any securities at the time the property was liquidated.
Are holders required to file a “negative report?”
Negative reports are not required in Virginia.
I received a claim form from your office but my name isn’t on the website. Why?
Discrepancies in unclaimed property listings may be due to misspelled information and other errors in how the property was reported to the Virginia Department of the Treasury. Users encountering this problem may click the “Contact Us” button on www.vaMoneySearch.org to e-mail the Claims Division with their concerns.
Do I need a holder number in order to report?
Holder ID numbers are not required on the reports submitted, provided the federal tax ID number is listed. Holder ID numbers are preferred in reporting, but are not required.
I still live at the address reported on my unclaimed property. Why was it turned over to Virginia?
The Virginia Department of the Treasury cannot determine the particular reasons a holder may turn property over from the records we are provided. It is possible the holder attempted to contact you and was unable for a number of reasons.
How far back does a business have to report unclaimed property for?
Depending on the circumstances, holders may be required to report property that was due on reports up to 10 years back.
Is my business obligated to report unclaimed property to other states?
Yes. Reporting rules require you to report property to the state of the last known address of the owner. If the address is unknown or a foreign address, you should report the property to your state of incorporation. Your home state may be willing to take in property for other states under a reciprocal reporting arrangement. Contact your home state to ask about this program.
Do holders need to report small amounts of unclaimed property even when the cost of research and reporting exceeds the property value?
Yes. Under certain limited circumstances, you may be allowed to delay reporting of small amounts. Contact the Records & Receipts Manager at William.Dadmun@trs.virginia.gov to discuss these situations.
What is the minimum reportable amount?
There isn’t one. Any and all property that meets the guidelines requiring remittance to the Commonwealth as Unclaimed Property should be reported, no matter how small.
How should securities be reported and transferred?
Reporting of securities follows the same patterns as any other property report. Delivery of securities, however, can be an involved process. Follow this link to see the complete set of delivery instructions that cover virtually any situation: http://www.vamoneysearch.org/Report/Reporting-Process/Step4
Are gift cards reportable? What if my business sold gift cards that were never redeemed?
Provided the gift card, gift certificate or other similar item remains redeemable, it is not reportable. If the instrument expires, then you must follow the reporting requirements according to §55-210.8:1.
Do non-profit organizations have to report unclaimed property?
Yes. All entities, including companies, non-profits, governmental agencies, localities, police departments, sheriff offices, educational institutions and others must review their books and report unclaimed property as is appropriate.
Can unclaimed property be reported early?
A holder may report and deliver property early if the owner is unlocatable and the necessary due diligence has been performed in accordance with §55-210.10:2.
Can a business reclaim property that was reported to the Commonwealth or paid to an owner after the money was turned over to the Unclaimed Property Division?
Yes, the holder must provide the Division with evidence of the payment to the owner or that the account was reactivated. Please refer to the holder claim form.
What are the penalties for failing to report unclaimed property?
Pursuant to §55-210.26:1, the holder shall pay interest and a civil penalty up to $1,000 for each day the report and remittance is withheld up to a maximum of the lesser of $50,000 or 100 percent of the value of the property which should have been paid or delivered and shall be required to pay the administrator interest at the same annual rate as is applicable to delinquent taxes under §58.1-1812.
How can I request a filing extension?
Extensions may be granted by the administrator upon request for a period of either 30 or 60 days. A Request for Extension of Time to File form must be submitted prior to November 1 (May 1 for insurance companies).
What is an owner?
An owner is the person to whom the property belongs and who can supply sufficient evidence to confirm the rights to claim the property.
What is a holder?
A holder is a company, agency, or financial institution that is in possession of unclaimed property prior to escheating it to the Commonwealth.
What is the unclaimed property auction?
When tangible property items are delivered to the Treasury Department for safekeeping, the Unclaimed Property Program will undertake an effort to advertise the names of the rightful owners in a local newspaper. If the owner of the property does not come forward, the property is considered for auction. This is done because there is a limited amount of space to house tangible items. Once items are sold at auction, the proceeds, less any sale expenses, are retained in an account for the owner’s benefit when they come forward in the future.
Can anyone bid on the items?
Yes. The auction is open to the public.
How do I claim Virginia Retirement System (VRS) funds?
Please contact the Virginia Retirement System to claim any funds there. The website is www.varetire.org.
Why do I have to provide so much identification in order to claim my property?
In order to ensure the Department of the Treasury is paying the rightful owner of any given property, the Department takes every possible step to verify the identity and veracity of the potential owner to claim any specific property.
Can businesses claim property that is in the company’s name?
Yes. Businesses may claim any unclaimed property due the company, provided they complete the necessary steps of the claims process.
Are there any special rules that apply to heirs claiming property?
Yes. Payments for unclaimed property are paid directly to the estate of any deceased individual. Please see the relevant claim form for instructions on how to file an unclaimed property claim for any deceased person.
I did not receive all the property that was in a safety deposit box. What happened?
The Virginia Department of the Treasury does not store paperwork for more than 20 years. Treasury will also immediately dispose of any materials considered flammable, unsafe, explicit/obscene, dangerous, or illegal.
I received a letter from a financial institution or company stating that my property was turned over/escheated to Virginia. What should I do?
Please visit www.vaMoneySearch.org to search for any unclaimed property you may be owed. If you have been informed that your property has been reported to the Commonwealth but are unable to locate it on the website, please click the “Contact Us” button on the website to contact a Claims Representative.
How do I find out about unclaimed U.S. Savings Bonds?
In order to verify the status of any U.S. Savings Bonds, please contact the Federal Department of the Treasury via their Treasuy Direct website. Information can be found at www.treasurydirect.gov/indiv/tools/tools_treasuryhunt.htm
Why are outstanding stale-dated checks considered unclaimed property?
If the check has a pre-determined void or stale date and has not been cashed by that date, it is considered dormant property and falls under the guidelines regarding the reporting of unclaimed property.
My name was listed in the newspaper ad for unclaimed property. What should I do?
Please visit www.vaMoneySearch.org to initiate your claims process or fill out the form that is typically included with the newspaper advertisement and send in the necessary documentation as directed on the form.
What additional documents will be required in order to claim property?
The exact documents for each claim will vary by the type of claim being filed. Please review your claim form to determine the appropriate documentation.
Why does Virginia have an unclaimed property act?
The purpose of Virginia’s act is threefold:
- First and foremost, the act is a consumer protection law designed to protect the property rights of the absentee owner and to reunite the owner with the property;
- To provide the holders relief from any liability and the responsibility of record keeping; and
- To provide the use of any funds that might arise from unclaimed property to the benefit of the general public rather than a chance possessor.
Why does vaMoneySearch.org only list property in a range instead of specific dollar amounts?
In order to protect the privacy of individual owners, the Unclaimed Property Program does not make specific dollar amounts of individual properties available to the public. It is also possible that property has been incorrectly reported or does not actually belong to the person listed, and it is not the desire or intent of the Virginia Department of the Treasury to mislead any individual regarding the amount of property they may be owed.
Can I be notified in advance of an auction?
To be notified of the Virginia Treasury Unclaimed Property auction, contact our auctioneer www.EBidLocal.com
How do accounts or money become unclaimed?
In accordance with the Code of Virginia, Uniform Disposition of Unclaimed Property Act (Chapter 11.1 §§ 55-210.1 - 55-210.30), property becomes unclaimed when the holder has not had contact with the owner of the property for a specified period of time, called the dormancy period. After the passage of the dormancy period, if there has been no activity generated by the owner, the property is then presumed abandoned.
Can someone with Power of Attorney claim on behalf of an owner?
Yes, as long as they can provide the documentation certifying they have power of attorney.
Can I find out about my unclaimed tax refunds with Virginia’s Unclaimed Property Program?
In order to check on the status of any tax refunds, please contact the Virginia Department of Taxation at www.tax.virginia.gov. The Department of Taxation will be able to tell you if the property has been reported to the Department of the Treasury.
What is an acceptable proof of business relationship?
That depends on the nature of the business relationship. A Claims Analyst can instruct you on the paperwork necessary for your individual situation. To reach a member of the Claims staff, click on the "Contact" us link near the top of the page and follow the instructions to send an e-mail.
How do I find out if I have unclaimed Property in another state?
To search for unclaimed property in another state, please visit www.missingmoney.com, the only officially endorsed site by the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators (NAUPA).
How much unclaimed property does Virginia have?
The exact amount varies year-to-year, but the fund is currently worth over $1 billion.
Are any efforts made by the companies or Virginia to find the owners of unclaimed property?
The holder is required to exercise due diligence by sending a letter by first class mail to the last known address they have for the owner on items $100.00 or greater at least 60 days prior to reporting. Pursuant to § 55-210.26:1B, a $50 penalty per item will be assessed for failure to perform due diligence.
In addition, the Unclaimed Property Program is required (§ 55-210.13) to publish the owners’ names in the newspaper annually for property valued at $100 of more, tangible property, and securities. Owners who respond to the newspaper advertisement will be assisted by the Program to claim these funds. Internet searches are available at vaMoneySearch.org. Additional efforts to locate owners are made at various community outreach events and other projects on a continuous basis.
If the state holds unclaimed money forever, why does it auction off physical property?
Due to a lack of storage space, it is not feasible for the Unclaimed Property Program to hold all tangible items in perpetuity.
Does Virginia pay interest on unclaimed property?
If the account is interest bearing, like an interest-bearing savings account, and is reported to the Department of the Treasury as interest bearing, interest may continue to accumulate. The exact specifics depend on the particulars for each individual account.
How long must an account be dormant or inactive before it is considered unclaimed?
The timeframe for dormancy varies between one to fifteen years, depending on the property type and the holder. Most property types have a five-year dormancy period.
Why do I have to provide the Treasury with my Social Security Number (SSN)?
The Department of the Treasury uses Social Security Numbers as one of the means of verifying legitimate ownership of each claim. In addtion, the Comptroller requires the SSN or Federal Employer Identification number to issue your refund check. Social security numbers are also required for 1099 reporting for additional interest, dividends, and stock sale proceeds.
If an Owner just lets an account “sit” and accumulate interest or dividends, is it considered active?
The exact circumstances can vary by institution. Please contact the holder to verify their particular policies.
How do I provide proof of a previous address?
Good sources of previous address are old bills like phone and utility bills, tax statements from the years you lived at the address, and credit reports that list previous locations you have lived.
Are there any items that are not usually sold at auction?
Military Medals, stock certificates, and other miscellaneous paper documents are not usually sold at auction.
What if I cannot prove the address listed on the property?
If you are unable to provide proof of a previous address, please contact a Claims Representative for further instructions.
Why am I receiving cash instead of the stock shares that were reported?
After a period of time, the Virginia Department of the Treasury is authorized to liquidate the stock, at which time the net proceeds of the sale will be placed in an account to be held for the original owner.
Why am I receiving cash instead of my safety deposit box contents?
After a period of time, Treasury auctions any tangible goods. The net proceeds from the sale of the item(s) are held in an account for the original owner.
How do I provide proof of a name change?
A copy of the marriage certificate or any court documentation regarding a name change is typically sufficient to verify any previous legal name(s).
My business discovered a “past due” property and would like to report it without penalty. Does your office accept voluntary disclosures?
Virginia does offer a Voluntary Compliance Agreement. You can see the details at http://www.vamoneysearch.org/Report/Additional-Resources/Voluntary-Compliance-Program-Information
What if the property is never claimed?
Virginia will hold all funds in perpetuity until the rightful owner steps forward. Tangible items will eventually be auctioned off, with the proceeds of each sale being held for the owner.
Virginia only holds the property as the custodian. This means owners can always claim their assets. There is no time limit on claiming your money from the State. In addition, Virginia pays interest “…at the rate of five percent or such lesser rate as the property earned while in the possession of the holder…” (§ 55-210.21 (C)).
The money is held in the Literary Fund with a reserve for claims by the owners or their heirs. This fund was established by the Virginia Constitution in 1810 as a permanent and perpetual means for financing public school construction. Administered by the Department of Education, the fund is used for K-12 public school purposes.
How does this program benefit me?
The Unclaimed Property Program protects the rights of the absentee owner, relieves businesses of the liability and record keeping for the account, and ensures that the funds benefit the public. Rather than contacting every company that may owe you money, our program is the central "lost and found" of unclaimed money owed to Virginians. We operate under a Virginia law called the Uniform Disposition of Unclaimed Property Act.