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UNCLAIMED PROPERTY FOCUS is a blog written by and for UPPO members, featuring diverse perspectives and insights from unclaimed property practitioners across the U.S. and Canada. We welcome your submissions to Unclaimed Property Focus. Please contact Tim Dressen via tim@uppo.org with any questions about submitting a blog post for consideration and refer to our editorial guidelines when writing your blog post. Disclaimer: Information and/or comments to this blog is not intended as a substitute for legal advice on compliance or reporting requirements.

 

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UPPO Buyer’s Guide – What do you think?

Posted By Administration, Friday, December 13, 2013
Updated: Thursday, December 5, 2013

It has been five months since the UPPO Buyer’s Guide launched. If you haven’t checked it out, it’s a complete categorized listing of UPPO’s service provider members. It was created to help you, the holder, navigate unclaimed property services available. You can find everything from consulting services, legal counsel to software providers. The best part is it’s free and available to everyone.

Have you used the Buyer’s Guide? We’d love to know what you think, answer the poll question below.

If you have questions about the Buyer’s Guide, or are a service provider member and would like to upgrade your listing contact Jackie Cote at 508-883-9065 or jackie@uppo.org.


Tags:  Buyer’s Guide  free  service providers  unclaimed property  unclaimed property services  UPPO 

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Holder Responsibility Part III: Reporting and Remitting in a Timely Manner

Posted By Danielle Herring, UPPO member, Thursday, October 24, 2013
Updated: Thursday, October 24, 2013

Throughout October, we’ll be posting a series on the four tenants of holder responsibilities – reviewing records, due diligence, reporting and remitting and retaining records.

Part III

How can you ensure that your reports are delivered and the amount you owe is remitted in a timely manner? Here are some things to consider.

We all think of the report due date as the finish line, but where does one start? It all starts when property appears to have been abandoned by the owner. I won’t get into definitions of abandonment in this post, but you can find this information on states’ websites, from your unclaimed property software and service providers, and various other sources. At some point, you gather the information about the owner and their property, and begin to keep track of how much time has passed.

The states have different dormancy requirements for different types of property. This information can be found in the state reporting handbooks on each state’s website (there’s a handy list of state websites on the govWATCH website). Most property has to age three or five years. Some property types, such as payroll, have a shorter dormancy requirement of one or two years.

After the appropriate number of years goes by and the property has still not been claimed, your next step is to send out due diligence letters to try to locate the owners before their property is turned over to the states. It is important to send these letters out on time. Most states require the letters be sent at least 60 days before the report due date. If you get a late start on letters, this may delay your state reporting as you’ll want to give the owners a chance to respond to the letters.

When the appropriate amount of time has passed for owners to respond to the letters, you’ll want to generate your state reports. Most states require a signed coversheet as part of your report submission. You’ll need to factor in enough time to get the cover sheets signed by an officer of your company, get your remittance set to go to the states, and ship your reports and remittances to the states so they arrive on or before the due date.

Using unclaimed property reporting software makes this process much more efficient than if you were to track everything manually. Most state websites have links to free software providers you can use. These systems allow you to input your data, generate due diligence letters, and generate the NAUPA electronic files and cover sheets for submission.

The free services also include tables to show how long each type of property for each state must remain abandoned before it is reported, as well as information about how you can make your payment (physical check or ACH/EFT/wire payments). This is very helpful and will save you time as you won’t have to visit each state’s website and research this information on your own.

It is important to note that your report submission is not considered complete until the state has received your payment.

There is a free online portal, called UPExpress, where you can submit reports and cover sheets for 25 participating states. You can access it at https://upexpress.eagletm.com/.

Many states have their own online delivery methods listed on their websites. You can use these to upload your file to the state website and receive a receipt with payment information.

Some states still require the NAUPA file on a CD which you must physically mail to them. Make sure to allow enough time for shipment.

If you remember to gather your unclaimed property data regularly, send your due diligence letters on time, and use the most efficient method of delivery for report and payment, you will have everything completed in plenty of time.

Next week we’ll wrap up the series with Part IV: Retaining Records.

Danielle Herring is a UPExchange Product Manager at Eagle Technology Management. She is also a UPPO member and serves on the UPPO eLearning Committee and Introduction to Unclaimed Property Webinar Task Force. The free webinar will be released soon! For related questions you can contact Danielle at Danielle.Herring@byetm.com.

More Resources

The Buyer’s Guide is a useful tool to identify service-providers that can help your company

Tags:  remitting  reporting  service providers  unclaimed property  UP 101  UPPO 

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Holder Responsibility Part II: Due Diligence

Posted By Brianne Scott, Unclaimed Property Professionals Organization, Thursday, October 17, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Throughout October, we’ll be posting a series on the four tenants of holder responsibilities – reviewing records, due diligence, reporting and remitting and retaining records.

Part II

 

Here’s the bottom line, conducting due diligence is important to your company. Reconnecting owners with their money impacts the happiness of your customers and the amount of money you have to escheat to the state. Because it’s a time-intensive process, calling upon a third-party provider might be an appropriate step for some holders.

 

There are a number of third party service providers, many of them members of UPPO that offer a wide array of services. Whether you want them to manage the entire process or just portions of it, you have a number of options available.

 

What are the BENEFITS of using a third party due diligence service provider?

  • First and foremost, you don’t have to know the legal requirements in every state. Service providers take over the burden of staying current on the ever-changing legislative and legal requirements in all states and jurisdictions.
  • Using your data from any open accounts, they run it against a matrix based on property type, statutory requirements and other factors to track property and determine when it becomes dormant (eligibility).
  • If your internal process is to locate property owners PRIOR to dormancy (pre-escheat), many providers will assist with that process.
  • When property is deemed dormant, they can perform the required due diligence, in accordance with applicable laws, to attempt to reunite the property with its rightful owner.
  • Tracking and responding to the communications with property owners is a critical piece in the due diligence process. Service providers can offer a variety of options including validation of the response; handle any subsequent transactions, etc.
  • Most providers are able to do all of your reporting, regardless of whether you report to one state or multiple states and jurisdictions.
  • Many will respond on your behalf to questions and/or inquiries made by unclaimed property administrators pertaining to filed reports.

 

What are some CONCERNS about using a third party due diligence service provider?

  • As with any service, it can be a matter of cost. It is important to determine the return on investment for your organization.
  • Sensitive client/customer data must be provided to the service provider for them to do their job. Data security is a key component when researching any of the providers.
  • Some unclaimed property professionals feel a loss of process control. It is critical that you understand how the provider will communicate with you to assure the process is being handled to your satisfaction.

 

Here are few things to consider if you’re looking for a third party due diligence provider.

  • How do they track legislative, regulatory and legal activity?
  • What type of indemnification do they provide to you?
  • If there are any types of errors in the due diligence or reporting process, will they pay any penalties?
  • What industries do they have experience in? Insurance, securities, banking, utilities, etc.?
  • Can they demonstrate they clearly understand what triggers dormancy and how "contact” is defined? In some cases there may be dual triggers so it’s important to be sure they understand your specific industry.
  • When they send due diligence letters on your behalf, do they use generic letters or letters formatted specifically to state statutes? Will they use your letterhead or stationery?
  • Will they perform the entire process for you and/or allow you to select specific processes? For example, they track your accounts, perform the necessary due diligence when a property type is deemed dormant, but you handle the reporting to the state(s).
  • What type of security processes and systems do they have in place to protect your sensitive data?
  • Will they respond on your behalf to inquiries from unclaimed property administrators regarding reports?
  • What type of flexibility do they have to respond to the owner?
  • How will they communicate with you to assure your standards are being met? What’s the frequency of reporting? If they are handling any transactions with property owners on your behalf, how do they reconcile with you?
  • How flexible is the company in working with you the first year versus successive years and does their fee structure accommodate the various volume levels? For example, if this is the first year you’ve reported, the volume may be much larger than it will be in subsequent years.
  • How flexible are they in providing responses to inquiries by owners?
  • Can they do address verification in advance of sending any letters to help reduce costs? If a potential owner has multiple properties, can they list them all on a single letter rather than individual letters?
  • As with any service, it is important to check references, both current and past clients. Be sure there are at least two or three from your industry.

 

As an unclaimed property professional, it is your job to assure the organization’s compliance with unclaimed property requirements. Using the services of a third party due diligence provider can protect your company from an unclaimed property audit and impact the bottom line.

 

Next week we’ll be continuing the Holder Responsibility series and talking about reporting and remitting.

 

More Resources

 

The UPPO Buyer’s Guide categorizes all UPPO service provider members by service type

Register for the 2014 UPPO Annual Conference on March 23-26, 2014 to meet with service providers

Learn more about due diligence suggested practices

Tags:  compliance  due diligence  service providers  unclaimed property  UPPO 

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Look It Up: Locating Unclaimed Property Owners in the Information Age

Posted By Administration, Sunday, June 2, 2013
Updated: Sunday, June 2, 2013

By John Waite, Chief Operating Officer, Boomerang Asset Recovery

The Internet and access to many different forms of data has fundamentally changed the way unclaimed property professionals can locate and contact apparent property owners and heirs, making the due diligence process easier than ever before. However, while information is abundant and readily accessible, the key to simplifying this procedure is knowing how to seek the right type of data and avoid common anomalies that can complicate searches.

One of the most frequent problems with online searches occurs if an apparent owner’s name or account information is inaccurate when retrieved from a specific source. For example, I recently received a notification letter regarding unclaimed assets from an insurance company, but the letter was addressed to "John White,” not "John Waite.” This was most likely retrieved from an old catalog mailing list which listed my name incorrectly. Even the smartest online search tools can’t account for name misspellings and other recording errors, so it’s important for holders to understand the data and develop customized databases and algorithms to account for these discrepancies.

Locating beneficiaries for insurance proceeds, inheritance and other forms of unclaimed personal property may be especially problematic for holders, particularly smaller companies who lack the resources to spend copious amounts of time searching public records or the IT resources to create custom solutions. Pay-per-search database services – such as Accurant and Lexis-Nexis –allow holders to "rent” their data in order to find relatives or locate people who have moved based on last known address, but for many smaller companies, the cost can be prohibitive.

For small companies, manual searches using public information may be helpful in obtaining apparent owners’ contact information, but this method may be too time-consuming and expensive for large companies with large amounts of potential escheatable property. Companies that do not have the internal resources or funds to perform this function in house can engage a service provider that can handle the process. Their experience in performing searches can help in reducing the amount of property escheated by tracking down the rightful owner.

As technology and data advancements continue, and companies develop and improve proprietary software specifically for use in unclaimed property compliance, the industry could one day do away with hard copy due diligence letters altogether. Future solutions could employ online notification and verification systems (as many financial service institutions already do) to determine identity using information only the rightful owners would know, such as mother’s maiden name, etc. This would eliminate a very time-consuming part of the process for holders and could help improve response rates, allowing more apparent owners to retrieve their property before it escheats to the state.

The UPPO website has links and resources for holders seeking unclaimed property owners. Members also get preferred access to ongoing learning opportunities that can help holders find rightful property owners quickly and efficiently.

UPPO members and non-members can also learn more about locating apparent owners of unclaimed property, plus dozens of other topics, at the annual UPPO Holders Seminar, August 14-15, 2013 in Chicago. Register today and receive an early-bird discount.

OTHER RESOURCES
UPPO Member Resources
2013 Holders Seminar


 

Tags:  Compliance  Due Diligence  education  Service Providers 

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Analyzing Technology Solutions for Unclaimed Property Compliance

Posted By Administration, Sunday, February 24, 2013
Updated: Friday, February 22, 2013

Several weeks ago, we discussed the due diligence involved in assessing whether to outsource the management of the unclaimed property process. Outsourcing is certainly an option for handling all of the complexities yourself, but there are other alternatives, including implementing software solutions to help with the due diligence and reporting process. Technology solutions can help you gain efficiencies, reduce expenses such as overtime and provide compliance with reporting to the various states and jurisdictions.

There are a number of software service providers, many of them members of UPPO that offer technology solutions for your operation.

What are the BENEFITS of using a software package?

  • Many holders attempt to maintain complex matrices with the requirements for every state and jurisdiction. With ever-changing legislative and legal requirements, this task can be never-ending and difficult to maintain. Software systems are designed to comply with these requirements and as a result, software providers bear the burden of keeping abreast of changes.
  • Because your company may do business in multiple states and/or jurisdictions, software systems can help ensure you’re reporting the correct property to the correct state(s).
  • Many systems can quickly provide information to you regarding due diligence requirements. For example, if you need to know about the dormancy period in a specific state, a software solution should be able to provide that information.
  • Some software systems store property owner records in a central repository, rather than in multiple spreadsheets or other types of manual storage.
  • Software systems can aid in developing, refining and maintaining unclaimed property best practices.
  • Systems may be able to track previously reported property and reduce or even eliminate double reporting.
  • Technology solutions can aid you in providing compliance reports to upper management as well as forecasting for potential future unclaimed property liability.
  • Staying in contact with your customers and clients is important to reduce potential UP liability. Software systems can assist you with proactive contact and research.
  • Software systems can help reduce costly reporting errors, taking advantage of allowable exceptions such as B2B or Payroll, and offering available alternatives/requirements for due diligence contact requirements.
  • Perhaps one of the greatest advantages of utilizing a software system is the audit trail it can provide for your time sensitive activities, along with any changes to a record. This may prove invaluable if your organization becomes the subject of an unclaimed property audit.

What are some CHALLENGES with using a software package?

  • As we discussed in our previous third party outsourcing post, use of a specific product or service can be a matter of cost. It is important to determine the return on investment for your organization.
  • Depending on whether the software you choose is Web-based or a traditional licensed package housed on your internal architecture, available IT resources may be an issue, especially for smaller companies.
  • It is important to remember that software systems are not kitchen appliances! You rarely just "plug them in and they work.” Training and implementation efforts require time and resources to achieve the greatest results.
  • Technology will only be as good as your process. Remember the saying, "garbage in, garbage out?” Automating a bad process will only aid in making mistakes faster.

Here are few things to consider if you’re looking for a technology solution.

  • How do they track legislative, regulatory and legal activity? How quickly do they update their systems to reflect any changes? How often do they provide software upgrades and/or enhancements? Will they do any customization of the system, if required for your business model? If yes, at what cost?
  • What type of indemnification do they provide to you?
  • If there are any types of errors in the due diligence or reporting process, will they pay any penalties?
  • What platform options are available? Browser/hosted, traditional licensed software on your system or other.
  • If you are considering a hosted service, what is the guaranteed "uptime?” What redundancy systems do they have in place to reduce any downtime?
  • What support is offered and what are the hours for support?
  • Is support provided free or at an additional cost?
  • What type of installation and training resources do they provide?
  • What type of reporting and audit information does the system provide?
  • How does the product house and track data for multiple companies that have different states of incorporation?
  • Can you design your own search letters or use provided templates so your company can exceed due diligence requirements and find the rightful owners? Can you create a single letter for an owner with multiple properties?
  • Does your solution provide options for creating notices other than the typical due diligence (i.e., courtesy correspondence prior to the required correspondence, NY advertising, certified letters)?
  • How does the system identify what action was taken on each record? For example, is there a way to tell if the record was escheated to the State, paid to the owner, voided or any other action?
  • With some states requiring reports to be encrypted, does the system use encryption?
  • What types of industry holders does your solution support? (banking, corporation, oil and gas, life insurance, securities, etc.) Does it contain the differing report due dates based on those classifications?
  • Does the solution house any Canadian information?
  • What type of security processes and systems do they have in place to protect your sensitive data?
  • What types of options are available to assist you in setting access controls and security levels?
  • As with any service, it is important to check references, both current and past clients. Be sure there are at least two or three from your industry.

As an unclaimed property professional, staying abreast of the complex requirements and reporting properly is perhaps the most important part of your job. Software systems that automate the process can provide a huge benefit to you and your company, as they can provide peace of mind and confidence that you are employing best practices to enhance your due diligence and reporting compliance procedures.

A number of services providers that assist with unclaimed property due diligence will be exhibiting at UPPO’s 2013 Annual Conference in San Diego, March 24-27. If you haven’t registered for the conference yet, it isn’t too late. If you are registered, be sure to check out the exhibits while you’re there and see for yourself whether a software solution is right for your organization.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES
Suggested Google Search Terms to Find 3rd Party Due Diligence Providers:

  • Unclaimed Property Software Systems
  • Unclaimed Property Due Diligence Services
  • Escheatment Software


The analysis and opinions expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of the Unclaimed Property Professionals Organization or its officers, directors or members. This summary document provides background information and is not intended as a substitute for legal advice.

Tags:  Due Diligence  education  Members  Service Providers 

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