For years you’ve heard about Louisiana’s Unclaimed Property Program and how the state works to reunite owners with their missing funds. One thing you may not have heard about the program is there are people out there who try to profit from it. These individuals and businesses are called finders, heir finders, or asset locators, and they’ve been around since we began returning unclaimed money more than 40 years ago.

 

Louisiana keeps a massive database of Unclaimed Property records going back all the way to 1972. Finders use information available to the public hoping to get rich on the backs of Unclaimed Property claimants.

 

Here’s how they do it. Finders will contact people who have money being held by our office and tell them that they’ve discovered a missing asset that belongs to them. The finder will offer to help them claim the money, but there is a fee attached for this help. Some finders operate in bulk by contacting a large number of individuals hoping to cash in on multiple claims, even if they’re relatively small dollar amounts. Others hope to strike it big with one or two large claims.

 

Some finders are legitimate and operate within the law; however, it will still cost you. By law, finders legally cannot charge you more than 10 percent of the amount of the Unclaimed Property.

 

Unfortunately, others are no better than scam artists. They may contact you even if you do not have any money, or they may charge you over the legally allowed rate. We’ve heard of instances, for example, when a finder would charge a flat fee of $50, but the Unclaimed Property itself wasn’t even worth that amount. We’ve also heard of scams where the company offers to help a person claim lost assets for a flat fee of $14.95 or $19.95 and all you get is a list of all 50 states’ Unclaimed Property offices.

 

One of the many problems we have with finders is the way they conduct their business. When they contact you, they will not disclose where your money is being held. They often try to get you to sign a contract first, and you may find out later that our office was holding the money all along. If your money has already been turned over to the Treasury’s Unclaimed Property Division, you could have claimed it directly from us at no charge.