Approximately $140 million in unclaimed funds sitting in dormant accounts in BC
The amount of unclaimed property sitting in dormant accounts in British Columbia has increased by 40% over the last three years, according to recent statistics from the BC Unclaimed Property Society (BCUPS).
Today, approximately $140 million in unclaimed funds are searchable in the BCUPS’ database, compared to approximately $100 million in 2014.
Alena Levitz, Executive Director of the BC Unclaimed Property Society, says the growing amount of unclaimed property in the province reflects the increasing number of financial institutions and other organizations remitting unclaimed funds to BCUPS over the years, while the number of claimants receiving unclaimed property has remained relatively constant.
“Fortunately, there’s no statute of limitations on unclaimed property in BC,” she says. “Unclaimed funds are always available to the rightful owners.”
Last year, BCUPS received approximately $5,585,000 from financial institutions, companies, courts, tax offices and the Public Guardian and Trustee of British Columbia and returned approximately $1,219,000 in unclaimed funds to the rightful owners.
Since its inception, BCUPS has reunited owners with approximately $11,793,000 in funds from dormant accounts.
Most unclaimed accounts hold between $300 to $500. The single largest unclaimed property payout by BCUPS was $357,262 made in 2011.
The largest dormant account in the BCUPS database waiting to be claimed is worth $1.9 million.
Unclaimed property remitted to BCUPS includes dormant credit union accounts, unpaid wages, overpayments to debt collectors, unclaimed proceeds from courts, pension funds, estates and forgotten real estate deposits.
Under the British Columbia Unclaimed Property Act, companies and organizations have a legal responsibility to identify and locate the owners of dormant accounts. If unsuccessful, they are required after a specified period of time to transfer these unclaimed funds to BCUPS, whose mission is to reunite unclaimed money with the rightful owners. As a not-for-profit Society, BCUPS holds unclaimed property as the custodian for rightful owners under the Act. In addition to actively searching for owners of unclaimed property, BCUPS maintains an online database (www.unclaimedpropertybc.ca) where people can conduct a name search to check if they have any unclaimed money waiting for them. Funds can be claimed by completing a verification process that firmly establishes the claimant’s identity. There is no cost to search for or claim long-lost money through BCUPS.
In addition to reuniting owners with their unclaimed property, BCUPS also works with companies to help them comply with the Unclaimed Property Act by getting dormant assets off their books, searching for and returning funds from dormant accounts to the rightful owners.
Unclaimed Property in BC by the Numbers
$140,255,000 – Total amount of money sitting in dormant accounts in BC waiting to be claimed.
$5,585,000 – Amount of unclaimed funds BCUPS received from financial institutions, companies and organizations in 2016, representing 6,926 dormant accounts.
$1,219,000 – Amount of money paid to verified claimants in 2016, representing 523 properties
$64,973,000 – Total amount of money from dormant accounts BCUPS has received since its inception on April 1, 2003, representing 84,418 unclaimed properties
$11,793,000 – Amount of money from dormant accounts BCUPS has returned to the rightful owners since its inception, representing 6,070 properties.
$31,625,830 – Funds BCUPS has transferred to Vancouver Foundation for charitable purposes since its inception.
Average dollar value of a claim is under $1,000
$357,262 – Largest amount claimed
Approximately $1.9 million – Largest dormant account waiting to be claimed