Press release submitted by Illinois State Treasurer Dan Rutherford.
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. -- Illinois State Treasurer Dan Rutherford has announced that the state's new unclaimed property program, I-Cash, is on pace to return more cash and assets to the public than in any other year of the state's efforts. Specifically, 2011 was the first year that the program returned more than $100 million to taxpayers and now the current year is on track to break those records.
The treasurer's office began the work of re-branding and preparing for the statewide marketing of the I-Cash program early this year. The launch of the new website (icash.illinois.gov) was completed this July. The website also contains 780,000 new names that have been added to the public web database. The Illinois State Treasurer's Office is making this effort to connect even more Illinois residents with their cash and assets during a time when finances are difficult for many families across the state.
"I decided the best way to use our non-taxpayer funded marketing budget was this statewide media campaign paired with an easy to use, bold new website. Past administrations chose to spend their similar marketing budgets in other ways, but technology has evolved, and this is the best way to reach people today," said Rutherford. Research into the former Cash Dash name indicated that only one in five Illinoisans recognized the name. "I am very proud of these efforts, but we're not done yet – we still have over $1.5 billion to return. If we're going to return more money to its rightful owners, we have to reach more people," explained Rutherford.
To facilitate this marketing campaign, $986,000 of non-taxpayer dollars were used from the Unclaimed Property Trust Fund to purchase:
A major statewide radio, outdoor, and digital campaign continuing into the Fall
The new icash.illinois.gov website
New agency-designed, creative marketing for the brand
Thousands of posters and marketing materials for statewide public libraries, senior citizen agencies, and Tollway properties to name a few. These materials feature five claimants who recently discovered unclaimed money.
The first three weeks after the public launch have resulted in 185% increase in visits to the unclaimed property website and 383% increase in the number of property claims filed. Exact dollar amounts of cash returned to its rightful owners will be calculated after the claims are paid, but indications are strong that totals will be increased dramatically as a return on the marketing investment.
I-Cash, part of the Illinois State Treasurer's Unclaimed Property Division, connects state residents with their unclaimed property. The program was established with the goal of helping Illinois residents through the process of reclaiming money or assets. It's common for people to lose track of their assets when they move or when loved ones pass away, and businesses and banks are required to turn over unclaimed accounts to the treasurer's office.
With the new I-Cash program, Rutherford and his staff encourage residents to "discover what's yours" by visiting the new I-Cash website and searching the state's database to see if they have an asset waiting for them. On the new website, consumers can also watch a video and read about other state residents who have searched for, discovered and received unclaimed property.
"Our goal through this program rebranding is to raise awareness and reunite even more Illinois residents with their unclaimed assets," says Rutherford. "The chances are even greater now that you, or someone you know, will discover cash or assets in the database with the recent addition of 780,000 names. Illinois residents have nothing to lose, and everything to gain, by searching the I-Cash website."
The 780,000 new names were recently added to the database from records prior to 1992, a time period before a computer system upgrade streamlined the database's maintenance.
One in eight Illinois residents has an asset to be claimed through I-Cash. The state currently has more than $1.5 billion in cash, plus contents from Illinois safe deposit boxes, which need to be returned to Illinois residents. Most assets are transferred to the state after they've been inactive for at least five years.
During Rutherford's first year in office, the program marked the first time in history that the treasurer's office returned more than $100 million to the people who owned assets. The total for 2011 was $101,679,655, a 23 percent increase over the previous year. Prior to Rutherford's leadership, the I-Cash program returned about $80 million annually to owners.
Some examples of unclaimed property currently 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.
To find out if you have unclaimed property through I-Cash, you can visit www.icash.illinois.gov.
The website is updated weekly to reflect new properties remitted to the office.
You can contact the Unclaimed Property Division by calling 217-785-6998 or emailing email@example.com.