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Pa. law allows oversight of 'finders'

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HARRISBURG — State Treasurer Rob McCord said Monday that a new law will require registration and oversight of “finders” — those charging a fee to assist residents in locating and recovering unclaimed property.

McCord said Pennsylvanians, businesses and organizations are able to claim their property for free directly from the state Treasury Department, but previously, businesses that helped people find property were not overseen.

The law would require such businesses to apply for approval, register and remain subject to Treasury oversight.

“The vast majority of finders operate within the law, and they can provide a valuable service to some people who may either not know they have unclaimed property, or need help to retrieve it,” McCord said. “Unfortunately, however, a relative few take advantage of those who are not fully aware of their rights.”

Under a long-standing Pennsylvania law, finders are permitted to charge up to 15 percent of the amount they help to claim. However, McCord said the Treasury has regularly seen cases where finders charge a higher percentage, illegally adding additional fees on top of the percentage or claiming the money or property themselves while passing on a small portion to the owner.

Under the new provisions, no one may act as a finder without proper documentation from the Treasury, which can revoke, suspend or refuse to renew a registration under certain conditions and after due process. Finders violating the law will be subject to fines of up to $1,000 for a first offense and up to $5,000 for a subsequent offense.

Claims on property can be made at www.patreasury.gov or by calling toll-free at 1-800-222-2046 during the weekday.

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