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Only Half Human
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533 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
Not-So-Safe-Deposit Boxes: States Seize Citizens' Property to Balance Their Budgets
Resources to Search for Unclaimed Property in Your Name
By ELISABETH LEAMY

SHARE The 50 U.S. states are holding more than $32 billion worth of unclaimed property that they're supposed to safeguard for their citizens. But a "Good Morning America" investigation found some states aggressively seize property that isn't really unclaimed and then use the money -- your money -- to balance their budgets.

State governments are seizing contents and auctioning off citizen's valuables.
Unclaimed property consists of things like forgotten apartment security deposits, uncashed dividend checks and safe-deposit boxes abandoned when an elderly relative dies.


Banks and other businesses are required to turn that property over to the state for safekeeping. The problem is that the states return less than a quarter of unclaimed property to the rightful owners.



Not-So-Safe-Deposit Boxes

San Francisco resident Carla Ruff's safe-deposit box was drilled, seized, and turned over to the state of California, marked "owner unknown."

"I was appalled," Ruff said. "I felt violated."


Carla's name was right on documents in the box at the Noe Valley Bank of America location. So was her address -- a house about six blocks from the bank. Carla had a checking account at the bank, too -- still does -- and receives regular statements. Plus, she has receipts showing she's the kind of person who paid her box rental fee. And yet, she says nobody ever notified her.


"They are zealously uncovering accounts that are not unclaimed," Ruff said.


To make matters worse, Ruff discovered the loss when she went to her box to retrieve important paperwork she needed because her husband was dying. Those papers had been shredded.



And that's not all. Her great-grandmother's precious natural pearls and other jewelry had been auctioned off. They were sold for just $1,800, even though they were appraised for $82,500.


"These things were things that she gave to me," Ruff said. "I valued them because I loved her."


Bank of America told ABC News it deeply regrets the situation and appreciates the difficulty of what Mrs. Ruff was going through. The bank has reached a settlement with Ruff and continues to update its unclaimed property procedures as laws change.


California's Class Action Lawsuit

Ruff is not alone. Attorney Bill Palmer represents her and countless other citizens in a class action lawsuit against the state of California.

"They figured the safety-deposit box was safer than keeping it under the mattress," Palmer said. "In the case of a lot of citizens, they were wrong, weren't they?"
 

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Wild Edibles Expert
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10,167 Posts
The state of Maine has $300 that is mine that I cannot get because I cannot prove I got mail at a particular address when I was 3-years old. That my parents lived there is not good enough. It is an insurance refund from 2005 that can only go to me if I can prove I got mail there in 1953. Ain't that brilliant.
 

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ΜΟΛΩΝ ΛΑΒ&
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8,248 Posts
oooh. plunder and pillage. I wonder when the raping will start? Perhaps after they deploy those 20k troops to use against us?
 

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tinfoil bandana
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1,164 Posts
I have a fireproof safe in a closet that locks, in a spare room that locks.

When I was saving for a new car, I had at one point almost $20,000 wrapped in butcher paper in a locked freezer.

I do not now, nor have I ever trusted a bank with more than a few hundred dollars, necessary because I need a checking account to pay bills.
 

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Registered
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7,224 Posts
This leads to question I had on safe deposit boxes. If the FDIC closes a bank and shuts it's doors - how do you access a safe deposit box?
Maybe, after they rifle them that is.
We had a bank close here in town years ago that MOVED the boxes without notice.
People were freaking out.
It took forever to free them up.
Never put anything in a SDB.
 

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I'm the boogey man.......
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6,686 Posts
Buy a good highly fire resistant gun safe, bolt it to a concrete floor and keep valuables in there.
 
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