New Jersey business sent notices to Iowans on the state’s unclaimed property list implying that a check had already been written to them, and offering to help get it re-issued for a fee.
(DES MOINES, Iowa) A New Jersey company and its owner have agreed to cease soliciting Iowans listed on the state treasurer’s “Great Iowa Treasure Hunt,” through an agreement with Attorney General Tom Miller.
The agreement, called an Assurance of Voluntary Compliance, requires Asset Recovery Services LLC, doing business as Fund Recovery, and owner Robert Scott Armstrong, 44, both of Franklinville, to cease mailings that had generated complaints from Iowa consumers and concerns from State Treasurer Michael Fitzgerald.
The solicitations, sent early this year, offered to assist Iowans in obtaining unclaimed property for a fee. The “Fund Recovery” mailings, labeled as “Credit Memos” from the “Escheatment Department,” apologized for earlier failure to get the unclaimed property into the consumer’s hands. The mailings offered to have the check “released” as soon as the “Department” could “process the credit.”
“There is no ‘Escheatment Department,’ no credit processing was required, and no check had yet been issued,” Miller said. “These mailings were misleading in all of these ways.”
Fitzgerald noted that Iowans can check for unclaimed property at www.greatiowatreasurehunt.com and recover it for free. The state treasurer’s unclaimed property program currently holds $294 million in more than a million accounts.
“Our office does not charge a fee to return money to rightful owners,” Fitzgerald said. “We put the names on the Great Iowa Treasure Hunt website and encourage Iowans and former Iowans to search. If you find your name, we’ll return your money at no cost.”
According to Fitzgerald, private businesses can help locate Iowans listed in the Great Iowa Treasure Hunt database, and the law allows them to collect up to 15 percent of the recovered funds.
“There’s a legal way to help the state return unclaimed property, and a misleading solicitation isn’t it,” Miller said.