Iowa Treasure Hunt begins -- is your name on the list?

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The Iowa State Treasurer’s Office used to think there would be less unclaimed property in the electronic age.

“We’re not seeing that,” said Karen Austin, Iowa deputy treasurer, who oversees the Great Iowa Treasure Hunt. “We wonder if there’s actually more.”

Now in its 27th year, the treasure hunt has returned more than $120 million in property to its rightful owners, she said.

In The Gazette today (Monday) and Tuesday, the Iowa Treasurer’s Office is listing unclaimed property it is holding for Linn County residents. A complete listing can be found at

Unclaimed property can be any financial asset that has been abandoned by its owner for a period of time specified by law. It takes many forms: dormant bank accounts, utility refunds, uncashed checks, unclaimed wages, safe-deposit boxes, insurance dividends and stock certificates and dividends.

The reasoning for thinking there would be less unclaimed property, Austin explained, was that “in the past, you knew the local person you worked with — the banker or insurance person. Now it’s done electronically, so if they transpose a couple of numbers in the ZIP code, it comes to us even if you live at the same address.”

The Internet and the Treasurer’s Office website do make it easier to find the rightful owners, she said. Still, Austin said, the newspaper ads spark a surge of calls and visits to the Treasurer’s Office.

“People see the ad in their newspaper and even if they don’t see their name, they go out online and find their name or someone they know,” Austin said.

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