Are Unclaimed Property "Finders" Ever Worth the Fee?by Tracey Reid on 12/14/12
A reader contacted me recently with a question about a "finder" that had contacted them and whether I thought it was worth it to work with a service like this. This service was offering to find them money that would never be escheated through the typical state websites because the unclaimed property rules applied to them differently, so it was unlikely that the reader could find the property on their own. For example, some municipal governments and co-op utilities are exempt from state unclaimed property reporting, but they have to report outstanding amounts in local newspapers or at the courthouse before it transfers to some particular fund permanently. It is an incredibly tedious process to track these exempted entity unclaimed property holdings. These "finding" companies do perform a valid service to larger companies that probably DO have a lot of unclaimed property scattered throughout the smaller municipal and government divisions that are exempt from traditional unclaimed property reporting, but DO NOT have resources to search for these funds. I suggest to my clients that they enter into a short term contract (preferably, 3 months) to determine if they are worth the risk of association, especially if they want a limited power of attorney to collect on your behalf. You might get a significant return, even after their commission, that you would not otherwise reap if you were looking for these items for only your company. The common business functionality is that the "finders" collect all of the funds, on your behalf, and then take their cut (not uncommonly upwards of 50% or more), before sending the net proceeds to you. If the funds they send are enough to pay a dedicated/part-time researcher in your own company to do the same work, you will know that you can make more by doing it yourself, but if the amount is minimal, it will be more than you would have gotten, otherwise, without wasting the time of an internal resource. If you do go with them, would you drop me a line at some point and tell me if your working relationship with them has been positive? I like to recommend companies that get good feedback. Thanks and Happy Holidays and Best Wishes to you and your family!