By DOUG WILSON
Herald-Whig Senior Writer
Illinois State Treasurer Dan Rutherford said $1.7 billion in unclaimed property is just waiting to be claimed through an Internet search or toll-free phone call.
"My office returned $129 million in unclaimed property to Illinois residents last year, and we want to do even more this year," Rutherford said Wednesday while in Quincy.
Unclaimed property from banks, utilities and a number of other sources must be turned over to the treasurer's office if accounts remain idle for five years and the rightful owners cannot be found. The property can include inactive checking and savings accounts, undelivered wages, money orders, utility deposits, bill overpayments, and stocks and bonds.
In Adams County alone, the state holds 20,000 listings for unclaimed property valued at $4.7 million, Rutherford said. Pike County has more than 4,400 listings with a value of about $793,000.
The I-Cash program allows people to do an Internet search of nearly 11 million items or property listings at icash.illinois.gov.
"People should check out their own names, the names of relatives, and check the names of any individuals who may have passed away," Rutherford said.
A media blitz in Western Illinois led to thousands of Internet searches this week, and more than 100 Adams County residents will be getting their unclaimed property. Rutherford and his staff also helped people conduct the Internet searches during a stop Wednesday at the Pittsfield Community Center.
Once the treasurer's office receives the property, it is held for at least five years before it can be offered for sale through an online auction, Rutherford said. Even after the coins, jewels or other property is sold, the money obtained from that sale is held by the treasurer's office in hopes that the original owner comes forward.
Auctions are held to make room for new loads of unclaimed property being received by the treasurer's office. The property is kept in a vault in a subbasement of the Illinois Capitol complex.
People and small groups do not need to make an appointment to tour the vault. Larger groups need to schedule their visits through the treasurer's office.
During Rutherford's visit to Quincy, he said he was encouraged by several local supporters to run for Illinois governor next year. Rutherford has been speaking at Lincoln Day events around the state and expects to announce his campaign intentions in late spring or early summer.