Unclaimed Property up for Auction in Illinois

by | March 17, 2015

By Meredith Rodriguez

This week, anyone in the world can bid on items long forgotten by Illinois residents.

A Morgan silver dollar, sterling silverware, a Batman comic book, a 1965 Ernie Banks baseball card and a Frank Thomas rookie card with a minimum bid of $86 are among the 16,200 pieces up for auction on the Illinois treasurer's office website.

The pieces have been untouched for at least 10 years -- five years in a bank's dormant account and five years at the treasurer's office, according to Treasurer Michael Frerichs.

One in 4 people in Illinois have items in the treasury that they haven't collected, according to Greg Rivara, a spokesman for the treasurer's office.

"It could be a paycheck from your employer. It could be stock certificates. It could be almost anything," Rivara said.

By typing his name into the treasury website, Rivara found a childhood Christmas gift from his uncle -- stock in the Boston Celtics -- that his father had placed in a safe deposit box and forgotten.

The treasury office in many cases has tried to find owners via direct mail and newspaper advertising.

"Our goal is to return the property to their rightful owner," Frerichs said. "Maybe someone will go online and find their grandfather's unclaimed coin collection."

People can type in their names at illinoistreasurer.gov to see what they may have lost. Starting Monday and ending Friday, anyone can click on the "Unclaimed Property Auction" link on the website to bid on the forgotten items.

Even after an item is sold at auction, the rightful owner can present identification and proof of ownership and receive the appraised amount for the item.

The office holds more than $2.1 billion in cash and valuables it is trying to return to Illinois residents. The last auction set up to make room for incoming items was in November 2014 and garnered $69,524, Rivara said.

The treasurer's office sets aside the money raised at auction in case someone wants to collect it, Rivara said, and the interest on the money is used to pay bills for the state.

(c)2015 the Chicago Tribune