Frequently Asked Questions

 

General Information

What is Unclaimed Property?
In South Carolina, virtually any intangible property not in the possession of its owner can be considered unclaimed property. Examples of unclaimed property include dormant bank accounts, uncashed checks (including paychecks), unclaimed insurance proceeds, forgotten utility deposits, uncashed dividend checks and unexchanged shares of stock. The Palmetto Payback Program does not handle real property such as land, houses, cars and boats.


Why does the state have such a law?
The South Carolina Unclaimed Property law provides consumer protection by serving as custodian of unclaimed property and by giving owners the means to perform a centralized search.


How does the state get the property?
If there has been no activity in the account for a set period of time, usually five years, the funds are remitted to the State Treasurer’s Office Palmetto Payback Program in the owner’s name and held until the funds are claimed. Before the unclaimed funds are remitted to the Palmetto Payback Program, the companies holding the funds are required to notify the owners at the address on the company’s records. Despite these efforts, many funds remain unclaimed and are transferred to the Palmetto Payback Program, which acts as custodian.


How do I prevent my funds from being reported to the State as unclaimed?
Cash all checks for dividends, wages and insurance settlements without delay. If you move, it is important to notify all business with which you have accounts of your new address. It is also a good idea to make a family member or trusted adviser aware of the location of all your accounts and financial records. In that companies must notify you before remitting your funds to the State as unclaimed, promptly respond to all requests for confirmation of account balances from banks, stockbrokers, utility companies and others that owe you money.


How far back do the records go?
South Carolina’s Unclaimed Property law went into effect in 1971. However, there are some accounts that date as far back as the 1940’s.


I haven’t always lived in South Carolina. How do I check to see if I have unclaimed property in another state?
Property is reported to the state of last known address of the owner. If you have lived outside of South Carolina, you should check all states in which you have lived. You can check other states for free by going to www.unclaimed.org (National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators) to check individual states.


Are there other databases besides Palmetto Payback that I can search for unclaimed property?
Yes. The website for the National Association Unclaimed Property Administrators (NAUPA) contains links to databases for other states. In addition, there are a number of state and federal databases for unclaimed property.
Click on the links below to search these databases:

Unclaimed Funds Held by the SC Retirement System
Unclaimed Child Support Held by SC Department of Social Services
NAUPA Website
Unclaimed Funds Held by the Federal Government
Unclaimed Savings Bonds Search
Unclaimed Pension Funds – U.S. Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation

Claiming Unclaimed Property

How long do I have to claim the money?
There is no time limit. The rightful owner always has the right to claim the funds.


Is there any charge or fee for this program?
No. There is no fee for this service whether or not property is found under your name. If you are contacted by an individual or firm offering to return property to you for a fee, contact the Palmetto Payback Program Offices BEFORE YOU SIGN AN AGREEMENT. You can call us at (803)737-4771


How long does it take for me to get my money?
Our goal is to expedite all claims and return property to the rightful owners as quickly as possible. Depending on the complexity of the claim, and the thoroughness of the claim documentation, it can take from six to twelve weeks. However, in many cases, the claim is processed within just a few weeks.


What if the original owner is deceased?
The Personal Representative for the estate can make a claim on the property by providing a copy of the death certificate, a currently dated Certificate of Appointment from the Probate Court, as well as proof of the deceased’s ownership of the property. Click here for a list of county probate courts in SC If there was no estate opened, or the estate has been closed, contact the Palmetto Payback Program staff at (803) 737-4771 to discuss your options.


What type of proof is needed to verify a claim?
There are two types of proof that need to be satisfied for every claim before it is paid. The first is the proof that the person making the claim is actually that person. The second is proof that ties the claimant to the funds being claimed. Section D of the claim form provides specific instructions as to what is required. Please read your claim form carefully to ensure you provide all of the necessary documentation. Failure to provide all the required documentation will delay the processing of your claim.


What if I can not prove the address listed under original owner on the claim form?
If you simply can not provide proof that you once used the address shown under “original owner” on the claim form, mail in the completed claim form with all other required documents. Attach a note indicating that you don't have proof of the original owner address and provide the approximate years at that address. If we are not able to verify ownership with the information you provided, we will advise you of what will be required to claim the account.


How do I contact the Palmetto Payback Program staff?
You can email the staff at payback@sto.sc.gov or call them at 803 737-4771. The mailing address is P.O. Box 11778 Columbia, SC 29211. The courier delivery address is Wade Hampton Office Building,Room 224, 1200 Senate Street, Columbia, SC 29201.

 

Holder Information

What is unclaimed property?
Unclaimed property includes, but is not limited to, bank accounts, wages or commissions, money orders, insurance proceeds, underlying shares, dividends, customer deposits, credit balances, layaways, and credit memos which have remained unclaimed by the rightful owner for a specified period of time. Click here to see the Dormancy Table (45k .pdf) for the dormancy period for specific property types.

What is a “holder” under the South Carolina Unclaimed Property Act?
A holder is a business organization, whether for profit or not for profit, including proprietorships, partnerships, corporations, estates, trusts, charitable organizations; fraternal or cooperative associations; and other legal or government entities which is in possession of property belonging to another.

What is a holder’s obligation under the South Carolina Uniform Unclaimed Property Act?
The Act requires all holders examine their records each year to determine whether they are in possession of any unclaimed property and if so, attempt to locate the rightful owners of accounts of $50 or more. If the holder is unsuccessful in locating the owners, the holder is required to remit the property to the State Treasurer’s Office along with a report including the names and last-known addresses of the owners.

Are all amounts reportable?
Yes, all amounts are reportable. However, holders may report property valued at less than $50 in the aggregate.

What are the due diligence requirements?
No more than one hundred twenty days before the holder files their report, the holder must send a written notice to the apparent owner that states the holder is in possession of property which has been deemed abandoned and will be remitted to the state as unclaimed if the apparent owner does not reply. Due diligence notices need only be sent for accounts of $50 or more and do not need to be sent to those owners for whom the address on the holder’s records has been proven to be incorrect. Link to sample Due Diligence Letter (16KB .pdf)

When are the report and remittance due?
The report, with remittance, must be filed before November 1 of each year as of the preceding June 30. Reporting extensions are granted on a case by case basis for good cause. Extension requests must be made in writing and received before November 1.

By what methods can the report be filed?
To protect the personal information of the owners for whom property is being reported, paper reports will not be accepted. All reports must be submitted by email in the NAUPA format (Excel files do not meet this requirement) and must be encrypted or password protected. Click here for information on the options available to assist you in creating a NAUPA formatted file

If the holder is located in South Carolina, will the State accept property belonging to owners with last known address in another state?
South Carolina will accept incidental property (ten or fewer properties, totaling $1,000 or less) reportable to another state only if allowed by the other state. Please refer to the NAUPA Reciprocity Matrix for state specific information.
IMPORTANT – If you include property reportable to other states in your South Carolina report, you must follow the laws of the state(s) to which each item is reportable.

Can a holder not located in South Carolina include property reportable to South Carolina in a report to another state?
South Carolina will allow incidental property (Ten or fewer accounts totaling $1000 or less) reportable to this state to be included with the report to another state only if allowed by the other state. Please refer to the NAUPA Reciprocity Matrix for state specific information.
IMPORTANT –Property with a last known address in South Carolina must conform to the South Carolina reporting requirements even if it is being included in a report filed with another state.

Does South Carolina require a report if there is no property due?
South Carolina does not require zero property reports.

We discovered "past due" property and would like to report it without penalty. Does your office accept voluntary disclosure agreements?
A Voluntary Disclosure Agreement will be made available to eligible holders.

What can a holder do if an owner requests payment of funds which has already been reported to the Palmetto Payback Program as unclaimed?
The holder may either refer the owner to the Palmetto Payback Program office to obtain a claim form, may send a request in writing authorizing us to pay the owner directly, or may make payment to the owner and then seek reimbursement from the Palmetto Payback Program using the Holder’s Claim for Reimbursement. The holder should contact the office before paying the owner to verify the owner has not already claimed the funds. Please allow 8 to 12 weeks after the report has been sent to request reimbursement.

How should securities be remitted to South Carolina?
Securities should be registered in the name of the South Carolina State Treasurer, Palmetto Payback Program and sent with the report. HOWEVER, WE STRONGLY RECOMMEND SECURITIES BE DELIVERED DIRECTLY TO THE PROGRAM’S BROKERAGE ACCOUNT. Wells Fargo Advisors/First Clearing DTC # 0141 Account name: South Carolina State Treasurer UPP Account # 7934-0516.

What is the FEIN number for the S. C. State Treasurer Palmetto Payback/ Unclaimed Property Program?
Please use 57-0882454

What attempts are made by the State Treasurer’s Office to find the rightful owners?
The State Treasurer’s Palmetto Payback staff is continually looking for property owners through in-house staff along with an aggressive statewide outreach campaign which includes various forms of traditional and new media. The Palmetto Payback Unclaimed Property database on the State Treasurer’s website is updated weekly so potential claimants can have up-to-date online access to the unclaimed property listing.

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