New legislation that took effect earlier this year in New Brunswick aims to reunite people with money they have forgotten, misplaced or otherwise abandoned. The bad news is that fraudsters will likely try to exploit the initiative.
The province’s Financial and Consumer Services Commission (FCNB) said that, under new legislation that came into effect this year, firms are required to search their books for any assets (worth at least $100) that are considered “unclaimed” with the goal of returning that money to its rightful owner. Unclaimed assets are defined as the firm having no contact with the property’s owner for three years.
The regulator said that assets in forgotten accounts, uncashed cheques and abandoned security deposits become unclaimed property every year. The new initiative covers unclaimed property going back to 2017.
“Notifying apparent owners is among the first steps holders of unclaimed property must take to meet the requirements of the new legislation,” said Andrew Nicholson, director of the FCNB’s program, in a release.
“That means businesses could start sending out letters as early as this month, notifying New Brunswickers they may be holding monetary property that could be theirs.”
If the firms that find unclaimed assets can’t locate the rightful owners, the property must be turned over to the regulator’s unclaimed property program.
Sometime next year, the FCNB expects to have a free online database up and running that will allow people to search for missing money.
In the meantime, though, the regulator warned that fraudsters will likely try to exploit the program to carry out advance fee scams.
“In other jurisdictions with unclaimed property programs, scam artists have tried to capitalize on these programs by sending fake letters demanding a fee or percentage payment to collect unclaimed property on behalf of the owner,” Nicholson warned.
In fact, there are no fees involved with recovering unclaimed property from either a business or the FCNB’s new program, he noted.