BY MELANIE WADE –
State Auditor Andrea Lea was the guest speaker at the weekly luncheon of the Rotary Club of Mena/Polk County on Thursday, January 11, and covered several topics, including the Great Arkansas Treasure Hunt, of which she encourages everyone to participate.
Lea has served as the state’s 40th auditor since 2014. In her role, she serves as the state’s general accountant, administrator of the Arkansas Unclaimed Property Act, and payroll officer for over 600 elected officials and their employees.
As part of her duties in the Arkansas Unclaimed Property Act, she and her staff take unclaimed money and assets, whether it be cash from an old utility deposit or a life insurance policy that was never collected, or maybe the contents of a safety deposit box. Once received, they try to distribute the asset to the rightful owner.
Currently, there is more than $300 million dollars in unclaimed property at the auditor’s office.
To encourage citizens to see if they may have money waiting, The Great Arkansas Treasure Hunt was born. In ‘the hunt’ people can contact the auditor’s office or go online to ClaimItAR.com, put in their information, and see if they have assets waiting.
As a fun exercise, she said when she knows she is traveling to speak to a group she likes to look up the names of the group’s members to see if they are on the Unclaimed Property list. She did just that before attending the Rotary meeting on Thursday and found that several of their members were on the list. One member looked up her name immediately in the online database and she has $9 waiting to be collected. Although some claims are higher than others, it is worth the time to look up.
Lea said just before Christmas, a man down on his luck came into her office and found he had $37,000 available. “We both just stood there and cried,” she recalled. For this reason, Lea encourages everyone to look themselves up “just in case.” You can also search relative’s names, and church and business names. You can also call 1-800-CLAIM-IT.