State becomes just one of a handful nationwide to utilize Internet giant to auction valuable unclaimed items. Special media preview of eBay launch set for Monday, December 14th

Providence, RI 12/7/2009 – General Treasurer Frank T. Caprio announced today that Rhode Island will join a select group of other states which offer unclaimed property items for bid on Internet auction giant eBay. The public auctions will run from December 14, 2009 to January 11, 2010.

“In the past, Rhode Island raised awareness of its unclaimed property items up for auction via traditional media such as the newspaper,” said Treasurer Caprio.

“Rhode Islanders and others with interest in the items would then have to physically be in attendance at the auction in Providence to bid. Now, anyone in the world can bid for these items on eBay, which dramatically elevates the visibility of the State’s unclaimed property, while also increasing the amount of bids and monetary level of bidding,” said General Treasurer Caprio. “That’s important because money raised from the online auction goes back into the state’s coffers. With an ever growing state budget deficit, any additional revenue is critical,” said Caprio.

By definition, unclaimed property consists of money and other assets that are considered lost or abandoned after an owner cannot be located for a specific period of time. It includes bank accounts; stocks and dividends; wages; refunds; contents of safe deposit boxes; insurance payments; gift certificates; credit memos and account receivable credits and payables, just to name a few.

By law each institution must send a letter to the last known address within 120 days of reporting the money to the Treasurer’s Office. The State publishes the list of unclaimed property owners in Rhode Island newspapers each spring. Also, the Treasurer’s Office visits various community and senior centers in an attempt to unite owners with their lost assets. The annual list contains only the current year’s information.

A separate cumulative list on the Treasurer’s web site contains accounts dating back to the 1940’s, and contains the names of approximately 60,000 individuals and businesses. Again, the list can be viewed at unclaimed property.

Texas, Wisconsin and Kansas are among other states utilizing eBay to sell unclaimed property. California and Washington state use other forms of online auctions to promote and sell their unclaimed items.

If you have questions about our Unclaimed Property Auctions, email: upauction@treasury.ri.gov or call 401.222.6505.

A special media preview of the eBay auction, including a display of some of the more unique items set to go out to world-wide bid, will be held on Monday, December 14th at 10:30 A.M at the Office of Rhode Island General Treasurer, Room 102, the State House, Providence.

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