Checks in the mail for unclaimed property should help with COVID-19 relief for some, but beware of scams

Checks in the mail for unclaimed property should help with COVID-19 relief for some, but beware of scams
Louisiana Treasurer John Schroder announced his agency partnered with the Department of Revenue to update addresses for folks owed money which the treasury collects from unclaimed refund checks that haven’t been cashed, stocks, bonds, old bank accounts, and more. (Source: WAFB)

BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - Checks from the state treasury are in the mail for more than 45,000 people.

Louisiana Treasurer John Schroder is making a point to let everyone know those checks are legitimate.

His agency partnered with the Department of Revenue to get tax records to update addresses for folks owed money which the treasury collects from unclaimed refund checks that haven’t been cashed, stocks, bonds, old bank accounts, payroll checks, royalties, utility deposits, interest payments, stock certificates, and life insurance proceeds.

By Schroder’s estimate, he’s ready to send out over $4 million.

It’s a welcome move given the economic hardships Louisianans are faced with during the COVID-19 pandemic.

But it’s also intended to serve as a reminder for Gov. John Bel Edwards that the game the two are playing is chess, not checkers.

They both have said they want the unclaimed money to go towards benefitting Louisianans. They just have different paths of getting to that goal.

Edwards sued Schroder before the pandemic for “being out of compliance” because of Schroder’s expected refusal to turn over millions of dollars of that unclaimed money from the Unclaimed Property Fund to the State General Fund.

Edwards wants that money to be used to support the state’s budget and programs.

“Since the inception of the Unclaimed Property program four decades ago, it has always had sufficient funds to pay claims and to have the excess funds transferred to the State General Fund as the state constitution requires,” said a spokesman for Edwards. “Even after the payment of these recent claims, Treasurer Schroder is holding on to tens of millions of dollars that could be used now to provide needed funds for health care providers or to provide assistance to our schools. We are happy that the Treasurer is meeting his obligation to return these funds to the people of Louisiana. The remaining funds should be used, as required by law, to meet the needs of all of the people of Louisiana in this emergency.”

Schroder argues that money is better served in the hands of the people.

He says the treasury is supposed to be holding that money for safekeeping until the original taxpayer decides to claim it. Government officials counting on that money, the amount of which fluctuates as taxpayers reclaim it, is illogical and improper since it does not belong to the state, he says.

“My goal is to give back every penny of unclaimed property. We’re well on track to hit over $50 million this year. That’s more money for you and less for the governor to grab,” Schroder said about the checks going out.

BEWARE OF SCAMS

Louisianans don’t need to do anything but cash the checks they’re provided.

The state treasury does not send out text messages alerting residents about their unclaimed property or charge to claim the money.

It also will not ask for a credit card number.

Search to see if you’re owed money by clicking the link here or calling 1-888-925-4127.

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