BATON ROUGE, LA – State Treasurer John Kennedy issued an alert today to warn Louisiana citizens about an email scam that directs recipients to provide personal information or pay a fee in order to claim a large amount of Unclaimed Property.

“This scam rears its ugly head every few years, and citizens should be on full alert for email messages requesting personal information in exchange for finding Unclaimed Property,” says Treasurer Kennedy. “I want people to know with certainty that Louisiana’s Unclaimed Property Division should be the first and last stop for searching for and claiming missing money.”

According to the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators (NAUPA), taxpayers nationwide are receiving deceptive emails appearing to originate from a regional auditor of the association. The emailclaims that the recipient has inherited a large amount of money from a deceased relative and promises further details upon the receipt of personal information. NAUPA does not proactively search for Unclaimed Property for individuals – that’s a job for the states – and does not contact individuals directly.

Identity thieves use fraudulent emails like this oneto steal personal information or trick an unsuspecting victim into sending in money to process an Unclaimed Property claim. Louisiana citizens never have to pay to search for and locate Unclaimed Property.

“It may seem easier to pay someone else to help you locate your unclaimed money, but it’s not,” said Treasurer Kennedy. “There are so-called ‘finders’ who search for Unclaimed Property for a fee, but they do not have access to information that you cannot find yourself on our website or by calling our toll-free hotline. When contacted by a ‘finder,’ an individual should contact our office before signing a contract. If the money is in our custody, we will be glad to get it back to you free of charge.”

A finder is an individual or business not affiliated with the State Treasury that looks up unclaimed money for individuals for a fee. They comb through the state’s massive Unclaimed Property database, look up information that is available publicly, and contact individuals to inform them about the money. Some finders operate within the law, but it is illegal for any finder to charge fees in excess of 10 percent of the value of the property. Keep in mind that someone can always claim Unclaimed Property from the Treasury directly at no charge.

“Unfortunately, there are some unscrupulous individuals who will charge money to search for Unclaimed Property knowing full well there is no Unclaimed Property to claim,” said Treasurer Kennedy. “The worst of the bunch prey on those who need the extra money the most, like the poor and the elderly.”

The State Treasury gets in new, lost money daily and has information on more than $500 million in Unclaimed Property belonging to Louisiana residents. The Treasury’s official website at www.LATreasury.comhas the most current and complete records available online. Likewise, citizens can call 1-888-925-4127 to search for missing money (Monday-Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.)

Sarah Mulhearn
(225) 342-0012