Illinois State Treasurer Dan Rutherford (R) and Illinois’ 71st District Representative Rich Morthland (L) are greeted by Savanna Mayor Larry Stebbins at City Hall in Savanna to commemorate the September 25th I-Cash event. (PA photo/Michael Miller)
By MICHAEL MILLER| For The Prairie Advocate News
SAVANNA – The City of Savanna hosted an “I-Cash” event (formerly “Cash Dash”) on September 25th, 2012 at the City Hall building at 333 Chicago Avenue, from 2 to 4 pm. The program, established in 1999, is designed to help state residents reclaim money or assets, which could have been unclaimed after relocations or the passing of loved ones. During these times, banks or businesses are required to turn over any unclaimed accounts to the State Treasurer’s office. Illinois residents are encouraged, through I-Cash, to visit the new website and search the database therein to ascertain whether or not they have such accounts, and if so, to locate and identify them.
The official State Treasurer’s press release quotes Treasurer Dan Rutherford as stating that “our goal through this program rebranding is to raise awareness and reunite even more Illinois residents with their unclaimed assets . . . the chances are even greater now that you, or someone you know, will discover cash or assets with the recent addition of 780,000 names. Illinois residents have nothing to lose, and everything to gain, by searching the I-Cash website.”
These new names are from records prior to 1992, which was before the database’s maintenance was upgraded by a computer system.
Examples of unclaimed property held by the treasurer’s office include: money from inactive savings and checking accounts, unpaid wages or commissions, stocks, bonds and mutual funds, money orders and bill overpayments, paid-up life insurance policies, and safe deposit box contents.
Savanna Mayor Larry Stebbins introduced Rep. Rich Morthland and Rutherford, both of whom made some brief comments concerning the program and its importance. Morthland, using a cane to help him walk, and wearing a leg brace from his hip to his ankle, explained that he had an “unfortunate encounter” with a cow on his farm. Morthland praised Rutherford for being so “proactive” with the I-Cash program.
Rutherford thanked both Morthland and Stebbins, and said that in Moline, the program had yielded 90 searches and 25 “hits.” He added that typically about 20 percent of people searching for lost accounts will find some. He added that the amount of dollars in the State Treasury with an address of someone in Carroll County was $729,000.00. Searches can be conducted for relatives who have passed on, the Treasurer added. Out of the roughly 16,500 people currently residing within Carroll County, 4525 searches were eligible for unclaimed accounts.
The Treasurer emphasized that none of the costs of the program were paid for by taxpayer dollars, rather, they were paid for out of the Unclaimed Property portfolio.
During Rutherford’s first year in office, the program hit an impressive milestone, marking the first time in history that the treasurer’s office returned more than 100 million dollars to people who owned assets ($101,679,655.00, a 23 percent increase over the previous year). Prior to Rutherford’s taking office, the program returned about 80 million dollars to owners.
The Treasurer said that the challenge for 2012 was to compare previous year’s returns, and that so far projections indicated that the total will “far and exceed” that of 2011. He added that the previous day he had expedited the process that would issue a check that was the largest claim in the history of the state, to a private company, totaling over 8 million dollars.
Asked if other states have similar programs, Morthland said they do, but he didn’t think there were run as efficiently as this one. Rutherford added that his office had made a decision to be very aggressive with the program, reasoning that “putting $20 million more into the economy than last year” was a good thing. Several factors highlighted this aggressive posture; the strong promotion of the I-Cash program, coming into large and small communities alike, and the lack of taxpayer funding.
Rutherford said the program was not to promote himself, and that nothing in the program carried his name or picture. The use of new technology and online auctions were also boons to the successful returning of assets to the people.
The Unclaimed Property Division may be contacted by calling 217-785-6998 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. You may find out if you have unclaimed property through I-Cash by logging onto www.icash.illinois.gov; the website is updated weekly.