COVID-19 pandemic puts renewed interest in $149M in unclaimed B.C. accounts
Canadian cash is shown: (iStock)
VICTORIA -- The BC Unclaimed Property Society (BCUPS) says there's been a renewed interest in the dormant and forgotten funds it holds onto on behalf of British Columbians amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
BCUPS says it has more than $149 million under its care, which comes from a range of sources, including financial institutions, estates and real estate deposits, inactive credit union accounts, unpaid wages, overpayments to debt collectors and more.
The society notes that it does not oversee forgotten funds from dormant bank accounts, which are the responsibility of the Bank of Canada.
"The COVID-19 pandemic upended British Columbians' financial well-being prompting many cash-strapped individuals to look for non-traditional sources of funds such as unclaimed assets," said Alena Levitz, executive director of BCUPS in a release Monday.
"Last year there was a significant increase in the number of people reaching out to BCUPS to inquire whether they had unclaimed funds waiting for them," she said.
Levitz says the BCUPS website received more than 200,000 visits last year, up a whopping 134 per cent compared to 2019. Similarly, the society received 13,934 general inquiries in 2020, marking a 171 per cent increase from 2019.
Anyone interested in seeing if they have forgotten money waiting for them can check on the BCUPS website here. The process is free, and anyone who discovers forgotten funds belonging to them can claim the money after completing a verification process.
The society says that most unclaimed accounts are between $300 and $500. However, BCUPS notes that there is a $1.9 million estate fund that is currently unclaimed, marking the largest single account in BCUPS's records.
The BC Unclaimed Property Society was created in 2003 to administer B.C.'s unclaimed property program. Since then, BCUPS says it has returned more $18.5 million to British Columbians.
BCUPS also donates a portion of its total unclaimed funds to charities each year. Last year, it donated $6.98 million to the Vancouver Foundation.