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B.C. residents are missing out on $164 million unclaimed cash

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A non-profit organization wants to get unclaimed cash into the hands of British Columbians, especially since money is tight for so many during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The B.C. Unclaimed Property Society (BCUPS) holds unclaimed money from provincially-regulated accounts including inactive credit union accounts, as well as unpaid wages, outstanding insurance payments, overpayments to debt collectors, proceeds from courts, pension funds, estates and real estate deposits. 

Bank accounts aren’t included because they fall under the Bank of Canada’s jurisdiction.

BCUPS says there is more than $164 million in unclaimed money from dormant accounts in the province. Some accounts are deemed dormant after a year, while others take longer earn that status, all the way up to 10 years.

 "Many B.C. residents facing unprecedented financial challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic may have unclaimed money they're not aware of that could make a meaningful difference in their life,” said Alena Levitz, Executive Director of BCUPS, in a release.

BCUPS says most unclaimed amounts are between $300 to $500. The biggest payout ever was $357,262 in 2011. But someone out there hasn’t claimed the biggest prize, an unclaimed estate worth $1.9 million.

"During these difficult times, we encourage all British Columbians to search the BCUPS database to see if they have forgotten funds waiting for them," said Levitz.

BCUPS says it received $10,949,801 last year in unclaimed funds waiting to be reunited with the rightful owners. Of that money, $2,744,595, was successfully returned. Payments could be delayed this year.

"Like many British Columbians, BCUPS staff are working remotely to help reduce the spread of COVID-19," said Levitz.

"However, we are continuing to process claims even though there may be some delays in work processes. We ask for claimants' patience and understanding as we continue to work to reunite British Columbians with their unclaimed funds."

Since being established in 2003, BCUPS says it has returned more than $17 million dollars to rightful owners.

Quebec and Alberta are the only other two provinces with similar programs.

Jessy Bains is a senior reporter at Yahoo Finance Canada. Follow him on Twitter @jessysbains.

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