A new online filing system has more than doubled the number of Arkansans who found unclaimed property in 2013, according to Arkansas State Auditor Charlie Daniels, whose office implemented the service last March. Reports providing detailed filing data reveal just how popular electronic filing has become and show that the office increased the return of unclaimed property dollars by 84 percent over 2012.
“We knew online filing would be an easier alternative to paper claim forms, and the numbers prove it. I am pleased at the impact online filing has had for the people of Arkansas who are trying to claim their money and at the improvements it’s brought to our program,” says Daniels.
In calendar year 2012, before online filing was offered, the auditor’s office paid 7,554 claims worth $7,272,205. After a soft launch of electronic filing in January of 2013 and a full launch in March of that year, the auditor’s office had paid 17,689 claims worth $13,426,189 by the end of 2013, a 134 percent increase in claims and an 84 percent increase in dollars paid. Of the total claims paid in 2013, 56 percent were filed online, resulting in the claimant receiving a check within 7 days.
Before online filing, claimants were required to file a paper claim form along with additional documentation such as copies of a driver’s license and a social security card. Because paper claims are more labor intensive, claimants often had to wait up to 30 days to receive a check. While many complex claims such as those with multiple owners or those claiming as heirs are still required to file by paper, online filing has streamlined single owner property claims and has freed up staff to tackle claims that need more attention.
The Information Network of Arkansas (INA) helped develop the online filing application for Auditor Daniels’ office. INA General Manager Amy Sawyer praised the success of the online filing application, noting that “online” also means mobile access. Roughly 30 percent of visitors accessed the new service via smartphone, even further expanding the ease of use and accessibility for claimants.
"The Arkansas Auditor of State is among the first in the nation to take its Unclaimed Property Search from paper to a mobile-friendly online filing system, and we are thrilled to be part of their innovation and success,” INA General Manager Amy Sawyer said. "Our mission is to deliver online solutions that help our Arkansas government partners save time and money while making it easier for citizens to work with them. This dramatic boost in online claim filings is a direct result of the agency embracing new technology and delivering their service in a way that is convenient for citizens."
What does all of this mean for Arkansans? Daniels says it means now is a good time to search for an unclaimed treasure of your own. “There are millions of dollars left to be claimed in the Great Arkansas Treasure Hunt, and getting your money back is only a few clicks away. Just visit www.auditor.ar.gov and start by typing a name in the search box.”
About Unclaimed Property
Arkansas law requires businesses and government organizations to report abandoned property to the Auditor of State after the property remains unclaimed for a specified period of time, usually 1-5 years depending on the type of property. Unclaimed property can include things like credit balances, security deposits, utility refunds, stocks, bonds, cash and even mineral royalties. Once the property is turned over to the Auditor of State, it remains in trust for the original owner or the owner’s heirs to come forward and claim. Since the program’s inception, the Auditor of State has returned over $102 million to original owners of unclaimed property.
About The Information Network of Arkansas (INA)
The Information Network of Arkansas (INA) is a public-private partnership between the state of Arkansas and the Arkansas Information Consortium (AIC) that helps state government entities Web-enable their information services. Little Rock-based AIC is part of e-Government firm NIC’s (NASDAQ: EGOV) family of companies. INA operates Arkansas.gov, the official website of the state of Arkansas, which offers more than 1,100 state and local online services.