Sunday, June 01, 2008

When is Forever Not Actually Forever?

A large number of states are targeting unclaimed refunds under unclaimed property laws.

Until the early part of this decade, retailers, manufacturers and the fulfillment companies that processed the rebates for them simply kept the unclaimed money. Now, all but a handful of states are banding together .... They believe consumers are the rightful owners. The upshot is that millions of dollars potentially could wind up in the states' tightly stretched coffers.

At the center of the debate is Minnesota-based Young America Corp., one of the country's top three fulfillment companies.

In a closely watched lawsuit, Iowa Treasurer Michael Fitzgerald is accusing Young America and its clients of not reporting millions of dollars in uncashed checks, as required by unclaimed property laws.

Sounds noble doesn't it?  Shouldn't all of those consumers be notified they have unspent dollars in their pockets?  Fortunately, we have a maverick who is willing to fight for the little guy.

Commerce Commissioner Glenn Wilson, ... now is challenging the ruling and fighting big business on behalf of consumers.

Because this is really all about the consumer, right?  After all:

"In our view, that's your money forever because the company has made an obligation to you," said Iowa assistant attorney general Layne Lindebak.

And what does forever actually mean?  Here is a quick look at how unclaimed property works:

As in most states, unclaimed property laws in Minnesota typically cover such things as abandoned checking and savings accounts, uncashed payroll checks, unclaimed safe deposit box contents, and stocks and bonds. States have three years to locate owners or beneficiaries. After that, the money goes to the general fund, which pays for the bulk of state programs and services.

So forever actually just means three years, then the state can just take your money - you know the money that is yours forever - and use it for whatever purpose they deem appropriate.
If you were paying attention, I cut a couple of words from the first snippet of the article.  Here is the sentence in full:

Now, all but a handful of states are banding together to lay claim to the cash.

Remember, no matter what words are coming out of a politician's mouth, it isn't about protecting consumers - it is about trying to get free money.

Politicians are nothing but bandits and thieves, they will speak to you in honey sweat tones, but that is only to lull you into a false sense of security long enough to pick your pocket.

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