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KeepUP™ Blog

Greg VerMulm

Recent Posts

4/1/16 11:30 AM

Abandoned Property Reciprocal Reporting: Who Cares?

You may have heard of reciprocal agreements between states for abandoned and unclaimed property reporting. Most holders won’t even look into it, but the question often lingers: “Is there something in reciprocal reporting that could save us time and money?” Your managers may have asked you to get through unclaimed property duties as quickly as possible, so you can get back to your regularly scheduled jobs. This blog will help you settle the questions of reciprocal reporting.

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Topics: Reporting

3/24/16 11:10 AM

Professional Development for Abandoned & Unclaimed Property Staff

The first question in your mind on this topic may be, “Is it really necessary to provide professional development for unclaimed property personnel?” It is, after all, only one of many business functions managed by your business, legal and finance offices. Employees are rarely hired specifically to become unclaimed property specialists within holder organizations. Even if those on the front lines of unclaimed property understand its complexity and potential risks, it can be difficult to explain to leadership. Consequently, unclaimed property personnel are often left to deal with escheatment on their own, with no outside support.

If decision-makers can be persuaded of the need to provide permission and resources for education, it is possible to improve knowledge and expertise about unclaimed property. But you won’t find many classes covering this topic other than as a passing mention.

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Topics: Best Practices

3/18/16 2:13 PM

Due Diligence Skill: What it Takes to Meet the Challenge

Due diligence is the stage of unclaimed property during which an unclaimed property holder is required to make an effort to find property owners before escheatment. Not only does this help fulfill the mission of unclaimed property laws (to unite owners with their property), but it can also be good for holder organizations. Reuniting property and owners creates goodwill by improving customer relationships, and it also reduces the amount of money that must be escheated to applicable unclaimed property jurisdictions.

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Topics: Due Diligence

3/11/16 4:36 PM

Unique Ways to Help Owners Find Unclaimed Property

Reuniting owners with their property is the premise behind all unclaimed property laws. In spite of all of the difficulties holders and state administrators encounter in the day-to-day management of unclaimed property, it is sometimes nice to refocus on this shared goal.

If you’ve been engaged in managing unclaimed property for your organization, you no doubt realize many initiatives are in place to help owners find their property. Most states provide websites where anyone can check for unclaimed property for free, and then advertise the availability of the websites. Third-party companies offer to help owners find property for a fee, but it may not necessary. The primary way owners discover they may have unclaimed property is through the due diligence efforts of holders.

Due diligence is required of holders by every jurisdiction in the United States. Each jurisdiction has its own rules for completing due diligence to find missing owners before property is escheated. However, many holders don’t need statutory pressure to reach out to inactive customers.

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Topics: Compliance, Due Diligence, Best Practices

2/18/16 9:22 AM

Unclaimed Property Audit Extrapolation: Is it Fair?

In unclaimed property circles, a popular hard-knocks story to share is the result of a state’s extrapolation of unclaimed property liabilities. Many holder personnel who have gone through the process of estimation during an audit or Voluntary Disclosure Agreement feel that the total assessment of past due amounts using extrapolation formulas has not been fair. Some holders have taken this question to court.

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Topics: Audit, Voluntary Disclosure Agreements

2/15/16 9:22 AM

4 Ways Company Size Affects Unclaimed Property Compliance

 

Although unclaimed property laws are the same for all sizes of companies, an organization’s size does have some bearing on how unclaimed property should be managed.

Smaller companies often have less to worry about, because they are less often the target of auditors, and it’s less complicated to deal with smaller numbers of records.

Larger companies face a number of complex challenges related to reporting of unclaimed property. Below are four of the most common.

 

    1. Recordkeeping: massive numbers of records and greater potential for human error 

      Many small businesses still keep paper records, which can complicate research if needed for an unclaimed property assessment. On the other hand, most small offices in any industry have few enough records that research isn’t overly cumbersome.

      Larger companies have a different type of problem. While they may have more sophisticated recordkeeping systems, owner and transaction records often are spread across multiple ERP systems. It’s easier to set up feature-heavy recordkeeping systems to track records and account for resolved unclaimed property, but the sheer number of records that needs to be properly coded for unclaimed property tracking can lead to many more incidences of human error.
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Topics: Due Diligence, Reporting, Audit, Recordkeeping

2/4/16 12:53 PM

Delaware’s Qui Tam Litigation: What it Means for Unclaimed Property Holders

In the course of a recent qui tam whistleblower lawsuit, the Delaware Superior Court released a preliminary decision related to requests for dismissal by the defendants — 30 retailers and a retail association.

Even though the case still has a long way to go before resolution, this early decision and some of the judge’s comments contain clues for holders to help them determine the best way to manage gift-card-related unclaimed property to stay out of court. Because other states sometimes follow Delaware’s lead, this decision could eventually influence unclaimed property law in other states.

Case background: State of Delaware ex rel. French v. Card Compliant LLCet al.

In May of 2014, a false claims (qui tam) action was brought by the State of Delaware against a third-party gift card issuer/manager, 30 of its retail gift card clients, and the National Retail Federation, which had helped promote the services in question. The action was based on the original filing by a former employee of the third-party issuer, Card Compliant (previously Card Fact, LLC).

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Topics: Delaware, Reporting, gift cards

1/29/16 11:01 AM

How to Effectively Allocate Unclaimed Property Staff

When planning to ensure adequate recordkeeping and reporting cycles for unclaimed property compliance, one item often gets overlooked: staffing. This blog will help you maximize labor resources and avoid staffing issues that can lead to higher liability.

First, determine who is responsible for unclaimed property

In many companies, unclaimed property responsibility falls to a general finance department, such as tax, treasury or accounting. Some companies assign unclaimed property to dedicated compliance departments or industry specific departments, such as Deposit Operations in a bank or the Land/Division Order Department in oil and gas. In a way, it doesn’t matter who does it. The number-one criteria is simply the ability to keep up with the process and report effectively on behalf of the entire organization.

Because unclaimed property originates in different departments throughout an organization, it often is best to assign early process steps to those who best understand where the property comes from. Payroll, for example, best understands outstanding paychecks. After each individual department completes due diligence, remaining outstanding properties are turned over to an assigned department for collected recordkeeping and reporting. An outside advisory company can manage this part of the process, but a company liaison should be provided to gather records from all departments.

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Topics: Best Practices, Staffing

1/14/16 2:54 PM

8 Ways to Earn Kudos as an Unclaimed Property Professional

Unclaimed property is administered and managed by real people who want to be recognized for the excellent work they do. Unclaimed property, though, by nature does not put achievers into the limelight.

If things go well, no one notices you. When things go badly, you get all kinds of notice—the wrong kind! This article suggests eight ways you can draw attention to your good work and get the kudos you deserve. 

The problem with abandoned and unclaimed property


Responsibility for abandoned and unclaimed property management is often viewed as a burden — just one more thing to do. To make matters worse, unclaimed property tasks, such as annual reporting, are due at the end or beginning of the month when many other tasks are due. Add to this the fact that corporate leaders rarely understand the level of resources necessary to manage unclaimed property properly.

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Topics: Risk, Audit, Best Practices

1/7/16 4:02 PM

Unclaimed Property Audits: Disproving Assumption of Abandonment

One of the most frustrating aspects of an unclaimed property audit is that auditors sometimes assume certain properties are abandoned or unclaimed, when the holder believes the property should not be defined as unclaimed. If the holder doesn’t take specific action to prove the auditor’s claim is incorrect, the property will be considered abandoned or unclaimed for the purposes of the audit—and assessed accordingly.

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Topics: Reporting, Audit, Recordkeeping