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Escheat Cheats

June 12, 2012

I have a Dividend Reinvestment Plan (DRIP) with AT&T.  They send me an updated statement every three months and a 1099, annual report and proxy statement every year – going on for 40 years.  I am not required to do anything except be happy as the share balance grows.  I just got a letter from AT&T that the State of New Jersey considers this an inactive account since there has been no “communication” from me in three years.

A client with a five-year CD got a similar warning letter because he did not generate any activity in the account during the last three years.  No activity is required or necessary!  What about IRA and Roth IRA accounts with CDs that are continuously rolled over or with brokerage accounts with no money going in or out?  What about deferred annuities and life insurance policies that don’t require payments?  I have many other illustrations – it is getting out of hand.  I consider this as theft by the State.  Simply put – the state is cheating us.  It is not right!

If mail is sent to me six or more times a year and it is not returned as undeliverable, doesn’t that indicate I am still around and active?  Further, if this is a “law” why isn’t the custodian, broker or bank sending a letter asking for a reply at least once every three (or maybe two) years?  Won’t that be good business and a courtesy to its customers?

My suggestion to get rid of this bother is to close and consolidate all small accounts – I will be doing that in the next month and will transfer the shares to an account I have at Fidelity.  Another suggestion is to write a letter each year to every bank, broker, insurance company, DRIP, and 401k and 403b custodian telling them that the letter should be considered by them as “notification of activity” for the account [provide the account or policy number] and that the account should be considered as active.  And also, vote and mail the proxy forms – that might also count as activity – but who knows?  What is being done is not logical or fair.

You can also check out to see if you have unclaimed funds that might be held by the state.  Go on line and search for UNCLAIMED FUNDS for your state and then click and follow the procedures to make a claim.   Do this once a year, starting now.

If you have any experience with this or comments, post them here.  Thanks.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Ken Deitz permalink
    June 12, 2012 9:01 pm

    I think it is a case of the government not hiring the best and the brightest. They have people working there who have no idea what they are doing and their supervisors don’t care because they haven’t gotten a pay raise in years. Apathy runs rampant in state government.

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