LITTLE ROCK, AR - There's a new, faster way for Arkansans to claim their missing money through the Arkansas Auditor of State's Office.
Auditor Charlie Daniels has announced an e-filing option for his office’s unclaimed property program.
The Auditor’s website (click here
) now features electronic filing, where users may submit claim forms online and check the status of their claim anytime. E-filing shortens the wait time for a check to 7 days, and dramatically reduces paperwork involved in processing claims. E-filing is the newest addition to the Auditor’s website, named in 2012 as the “Most Improved” website by the Unclaimed Property Professionals Organization (UPPO).
“This is a huge step in our effort to bring all the features of the Great Arkansas Treasure Hunt online, and to reduce some of the procedural hurdles that often led to frustration for people trying to claim their money,” Daniels said.
Since e-filing’s soft launch in January, the Auditor has accepted 1,243 electronic claims, averaging over 100 per week, and that number is expected to rise as more people become familiar with the option. The Auditor's office estimates a 77% reduction in wait time for claim payment, down from an average of 30 days to seven. The program will likely see a cost savings in moving from a paper-based claims system to one that is expected to shift 40-50% of claims to a paperless process, though figures are not yet available on what the net savings might be.
With an average of $22.5 million in unclaimed property collected annually, there are thousands of new claims coming in every year that must be sorted, verified, researched and paid. Online filing automates several of these daily tasks, allowing employees to resolve special claims that need more attention and take a more proactive approach to finding unclaimed property owners. How Does It Work?
Once a user finds his name on the unclaimed property list, he will be prompted to enter all required information through the secure e-Filing application. An identity verification test will be performed to determine the claimant’s eligibility. This process eliminates the need for the filer to find and submit supporting documentation, a task that sometimes ends in frustration and leads to claims being delayed or abandoned. With e-Filing, the user can complete the claim form in a matter of minutes and expect to receive a check within 7 days. Users can also check on the status of their claim anytime.
There are exceptions to e-Filing eligibility. Filers claiming on behalf of another individual will still need to go through the regular claims process for the purpose of collecting all documentation needed to verify the claimant’s eligibility. Filers who are joint owners of property will also need special review.
The Auditor’s Great Arkansas Treasure Hunt Online is also available as a Smart Phone app or through a mobile-optimized version of the website. Users with a Smart Phone need only to visit the Auditor’s website to be prompted for one of those options.
Arkansas joins just 20 other states that accept electronic claims, according to the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators. Data is not available on how many of those states also make e-filing available for smart phone users.
The Auditor’s Online Treasure Hunt was developed in partnership with Arkansas.gov and Lexis-Nexis. About Unclaimed Property
Arkansas law requires businesses and government organizations to report abandoned property to the Auditor of State after the property remains unclaimed for a specified period of time, usually between 1-5 years depending on the type of property. Unclaimed property can include things like credit balances, security deposits, utility refunds, stocks, bonds, cash and even mineral royalties. Once the property is turned over to the Auditor of State, it remains in trust for the original owner or the owner’s heirs to come forward and claim. Since the program's inception, the Auditor of State has returned over $90 million to original owners of unclaimed property.