Unclaimed Property Scam
As unclaimed property programs come into effect in Canada, companies inevitably pop up offering to do searches for a fee. While third-party finders are legal, there are limits to the compensation they can receive. Scammers will try to take advantage of these new programs, so it’s important to know how to recognize a legitimate third-party finder from a scam.
Remember: you can always search and claim your funds for free directly on FundsFinderNB.
How it works
Scammers posing as government officials, lawyers or property locators contact you through email, text, postal mail or by phone with the alluring promise of unclaimed money or property. They claim to have identified forgotten assets in your name and offer to help retrieve them for a fee.
The scam artist may work in different ways. For example:
- The scammer may tell you they’ve recovered unclaimed money from a deceased relative and ask you to pay an upfront fee to be able to access the unclaimed property and transfer it to your name.
- The scammer may offer to do a ‘search’ for free, claiming you won’t have to pay anything until your money is found. They then ask you to provide personal information to conduct the search.
- The scammer may offer to reunite you with your unclaimed money for free and ask you to click on a link within a text or email to claim your property. If you click on the link, the scammers will have access to information stored on your computer, such as passwords and credit card or bank account numbers. They may also ask you to phone a certain number to claim your money, but they don’t tell you of the high charges you will incur if you phone the number.
How to protect yourself
Be wary of anyone contacting you claiming they can help locate your unclaimed property. Real government officials do not charge for you to search for or claim forgotten money. You can search official unclaimed property databases yourself for free at FundsFinderNB.ca or at the following websites:
- Alberta Treasury Board and Finance – Unclaimed Property
- BC Unclaimed – British Columbia Unclaimed Property Society
- Revenu Quebec
- Missing Money (U.S.): This is the official source for unclaimed property searches sponsored by the United States and NAUPA (National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators). There is no fee to use this site.
- National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators (NAUPA): NAUPA’s website provides information on the administration of unclaimed property in North America and provides links to unclaimed property programs in American states and four Canadian provinces.
- Bank of Canada: BOC administers unclaimed chartered bank balances pursuant to the federal Bank Act. Their website provides a free name-searchable database.
Never provide personal or credit card information without first verifying the authenticity of the person or company asking for it.
Never respond to an unsolicited text or email about unclaimed property and never click on links within messages from senders you do not know.
How to report it
FCNB is responsible for the administration, education and enforcement of provincial legislation that regulates securities, insurance, pensions, credit unions and certain consumer services. If your complaint relates to an area outside of FCNB’s regulated areas, we may refer you to the appropriate reporting agency or organization.