Illinois Retail Group Helps Members Recover Unclaimed Valuables

The Illinois Retail Merchants Association is working with the state's treasurer to automate the process of recovering unclaimed valuables—a real perk for members who have a little cash unexpectedly hidden away.

Talk about a member benefit: Thanks to the help of the association that represents them, almost a thousand companies are about to get their money and property back.

The Illinois Retail Merchants Association (IRMA) is teaming up with the Illinois State Treasurer’s Office to dig through a variety of inactive accounts, unpaid commissions, overpayments, and other forgotten assets. The goal? To help the state return unclaimed money and property to businesses.

It’s an exciting partnership for both the state and the trade group.

“This is the first time we have partnered with the treasurer’s office, and we look forward to helping our Illinois retailers reunite with money or property they did not realize they had waiting to be claimed through I-Cash,” Rob Karr, president and CEO of IRMA, said in a news release [PDF].

The collaborative process, simply put, involves getting the treasury’s database talking to the association’s database.

The Illinois Treasurer’s Unclaimed Property division runs I-Cash, which enables private citizens and businesses to collect their forgotten property and unclaimed money. Some companies have as much as $50,000 in valuables to claim. The state hopes returning assets (both cash and property) will boost its economy by introducing more money into the marketplace.

But these assets aren’t always top of mind for companies, which is where IRMA’s member database comes into play. The association will compare its list of members against the names of businesses and individuals in the I-Cash database and then notify members whose names are a match.

“I think a lot of time employers don’t have the time to take time to check the website,” Karr said to CBS News. “They don’t think about that fact that, since the state spends so much time focusing on the individuals, they don’t think about the employers and businesses might have unclaimed property.”

The I-Cash program returned $1.7 million in valuables to businesses in the first half of 2015, but the state has tens of millions in assets left to return. A total of $163 million was returned to both businesses and individuals through the I-Cash program in 2014.

IRMA so far has found 63 retail companies that have a combined $4.2 million in unclaimed assets.

“We’re just assisting them by going through our membership list and identifying those who appear to have unclaimed property so we are able to say to them ‘Listen, it looks like you have unclaimed property,'” Karr explained of IRMA’s role.

Both IRMA and the state are confident that all those involved will benefit from this partnership—one that Illinois Treasurer Michael Frerichs sees much potential in.

“Working with IRMA will help us return money and property to their rightful owners faster,” Frerichs said in a statement. “Illinois retailers and other businesses have tens of millions of dollars waiting to be claimed and we’re eager to get this money back into their hands and back into the economy.”


Patrick deHahn

By Patrick deHahn

Patrick deHahn is a contributor to Associations Now. MORE

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