With the holiday season in full swing, scammers are looking to separate people from their money. State Treasurer Michael Fitzgerald is warning Iowans of an unclaimed property scam text message that may target them. The fraudulent text messages are claiming to be from the Iowa Unclaimed Property Division (UCP). The texts state there are available funds under your name and to visit the link provided. Fitzgerald is urging Iowans to delete any messages claiming to come from his office. “I want everyone to be cautions of such scams,” said Fitzgerald. “With promises to return your money, scammers are trying to trick Iowans into giving up their personal information with a text.” At this time, the State Treasurer’s Office and the Great Iowa Treasure Hunt does not contact anyone via text message.
The texts are similar to email phishing scams in which victims are lured to a website where they give their personal information. Fitzgerald urges Iowans to monitor and protect their personal information with these useful tips:
- Avoid clicking on suspicious links or attachments. Think before you click – spelling errors from text messages or email addresses that don’t seem right treat with utmost caution and verify before clicking.
- There are many sites advertised on search engines that may try to charge a fee to recover unclaimed property. Always make sure you are dealing with a government site.
- Do not pay anyone that says they will help you recover unclaimed funds. The State Treasurer’s Office does not charge to search or return funds.
Every state has an unclaimed property division, the Great Iowa Treasure is Iowa’s unclaimed property program. This is where money from forgotten assets such as inactive bank accounts or uncashed checks are held until the rightful owner comes forward. “The best way to check for unclaimed property is directly through the Great Iowa Treasure Hunt website, at GreatIowaTreasureHunt.gov,” Fitzgerald stated.
Unclaimed property refers to property or accounts within financial institutions or companies in which there typically has been no activity for several years and the business cannot locate the owner. In Iowa, the assets are safeguarded in the Great Iowa Treasure Hunt until the owner or heir of the property is found. Common forms of unclaimed property include forgotten savings or checking accounts, stocks, uncashed checks, unpaid life insurance benefits, utility security deposits and safe deposit box contents. The program has returned over $290 million in unclaimed property since Fitzgerald created it in 1983.