Office of the State Treasurer


September 2, 2004
New Jerseyans Reunited with Record Level of
Unclaimed Property in FY 2004
 TRENTON – State Treasurer John E. McCormac and Taxation Division Director Robert K. Thompson announced today that FY 2004 was a record year for the State’s Unclaimed Property Office. For the year, the office reported a record number of paid claims and a record number of claimants contacted for the purpose of reuniting them with assets that they lost, overlooked or perhaps knew nothing about. 

 “By every definition, FY 2004 was an outstanding year for the Unclaimed Property Office and for the 24,000 people who received paid claims,” said Treasurer McCormac. “Under the guidance of Assistant Division Director Steve Sylvester and UP Office Chief Steve Harris, Taxation returned more than $55 million to rightful property owners in the last fiscal year, the largest one year total in State history,” he said.

 “Our success is attributed in no small part to the Legislature’s efforts to putting the true property owners’ rights first,” said Director Thompson. “Shortening the abandonment period for many assets from ten and five years to three years made the UP Office’s job of locating rightful owners faster and easier. I also commend the forward thinking of employees in Unclaimed Property, and credit proactive managers who have redoubled efforts to ensure that property is returned to the rightful owners as quickly as possible,” he said.

 Thompson also credited the record year with increasingly aggressive outreach efforts, which included dispatching staff to public sporting events, county fairs and other venues to conduct on-site, on-demand database searches for unclaimed property.

 Assistant Director Sylvester noted that the fundamental goal of the unclaimed property program is to safeguard the rights of property owners and to return the unclaimed property to them, with interest. “The law protects consumers from the loss of bank accounts, payroll checks, utility deposits, and many other types of property,” Sylvester said. Following a period of dormancy, the holdings are remitted for safekeeping to Taxation’s Unclaimed Property Office, which maintains the State’s online searchable Data base for abandoned assets. For FY 2004, Sylvester said the claims section returned $55.2 million to 23,910 of claimants.

 Office Chief Harris added that FY 2004 marked the first time that UP conducted public auctions for abandoned articles. The office held two auctions during the fiscal year, netting $216,000 for rightful claimants. “We conduct auctions only after exhausting all efforts to locate rightful owners. The proceeds we collect are placed into the trust account, where they accrue interest until the rightful claimants or heirs are located,” said Harris. He added that the auctioned items are typically contents from safe deposit boxes that date back up to several decades.

 New Jersey residents are a point and a click away from learning whether the Unclaimed Property Office is holding items in their name for safekeeping. The searchable database can be found at


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