ANNAPOLIS, Md. (August 4, 2011) – Reinforcing his commitment to protecting Maryland taxpayers and consumers, Comptroller Peter Franchot today alerted Marylanders to a unclaimed property scam that has started to pop up in several other states. The scam starts with people receiving a phony message from National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators (NAUPA) director Jeff Smith. The message states that an abandoned package has been found belonging to the recipient. When unsuspecting people reply to the fake message they are directed to a contact with an international phone number which is then charged to their phone bill.
“We are very proud to be one of the most aggressive offices in the nation when it comes to reuniting people with their unclaimed property, however we want all Marylanders to know that any message they receive purporting to be from the NAUPA notifying them of funds is fraudulent,” said Comptroller Franchot. “My office works closely with the NAUPA but that organization never notifies owners of unclaimed or missing funds. If any Marylander receives this message, please notify my office immediately.”
“As government agencies conduct more business by email, it can be very confusing for citizens. We recommend that people always contact their state unclaimed property office to verify that any communication regarding unclaimed property is indeed legitimate,” said Ron G. Crane, Idaho State Treasurer and president of NAUPA.
Comptroller Franchot urges anyone who received this message to contact his office at 410-767-1700, in Central Maryland, or toll-free at 1-800-782-7383, to verify the claim. Do not call the number listed in the message as that will result in heavy charges to phone bills. The Comptroller also noted that anyone can check the agency's complete unclaimed property records for free, online, at either www.marylandtaxes.com or www.missingmoney.com. The agency has records on approximately 875,000 accounts worth more than $950 million. Last fiscal year, the Comptroller's Office honored nearly 49,000 claims totaling more than $47.8 million.