Have you signed into your account lately? To avoid having your money turned over to the state as unclaimed property, it might be a good idea to sign into your account at least once a year.
Every state has what's known as unclaimed property (also called escheatment) law, which requires businesses to turn over abandoned financial assets to the state government.
Some examples of property (financial assets) that could be considered abandoned or unclaimed are:
- Stocks, bonds, and mutual funds (and cash in a brokerage account)
- Bank accounts (savings, checking, CDs)
- Safe deposit boxes
- Un-cashed paychecks
- Insurance proceeds
The property qualifies as abandoned after a specific period of inactivity, which varies by state.
We don't want this to happen to you. Read below to learn how you can prevent your assets from being turned over to the state.
What does "unclaimed property" mean?
Unclaimed property is any asset owed or held by an organization that has no evidence of owner activity or contact for an extended period of time. In most states, property is considered abandoned after three years.
Why is this done?
All states have unclaimed or abandoned property laws put in place with the intention of returning unclaimed or abandoned assets to their owners.
What happens once assets are considered unclaimed or abandoned?
We are required (under state laws) to turn over assets to the state of your last address on record. If your account has been turned over to your state, you need to claim your assets by contacting your state's unclaimed property division. To find information about your state's unclaimed property program, go to www.unclaimed.org.
Will I be notified ahead of time before assets I own are turned over to the state?
Yes. We make a diligent effort to contact our Customers. If we are unsuccessful and there's still no activity initiated by the account owner, we must turn over the assets to the state.
What if you can't reach an account owner?
If we can't contact the account owner and no activity has occurred in the account online, we must turn over the assets to the state.
How can I prevent this?
As a rule of thumb, we encourage you to do one of the following at least once a year:
- Sign in to your account(s) at www.sharebuilder.com. When you sign in, make sure you update any of your contact information that has changed.
- Speak to a Customer Service Associate at 800-365-6605, 8 AM to 9 PM ET, Monday through Friday.
If you've forgotten your username or password and are unable to sign in, try the Forgot your username link on the site. If you cannot complete the recovery process, contact our Customer Service team for assistance.
What if I have more than one account?
As long as you are active in at least one of your accounts, your other accounts under the same username will not be turned over to the state.
Do dividends posting on the account show that I have not abandoned my account?
No, dividend postings do not qualify, because it is not account activity done by you. Basically, you need to at least sign into your account for us to consider it active.
If I have a joint account holder and they sign in, is that enough?
We encourage both account holders to each sign in at least once a year to be safe. That way, if you have any single or individual accounts under the same username, you'll be covered (the assets won't be turned over to the state).
What if the account beneficiary is a minor (in a custodial or ESA account)?
Minors are also subject to unclaimed property laws, when there has been no activity in the account which was done online. The adult account custodian or responsible individual must contact us by signing in or contacting Customer Service to prevent the assets in the account from being classified as "abandoned."
How do I know if I have any unclaimed property?
Go to www.unclaimed.org to see if your state is holding any assets which belong to you. If they are, you'll need to file a claim using the process in place for your state.