The new year has begun and State Treasurer Michael Fitzgerald wants Iowans to be financially secure in 2020. Many of us have financial accounts we don’t check regularly — a retirement account from a past employer or savings account opened when a child was born. “Not checking on these accounts may seem harmless, but it can result in your assets becoming unclaimed property,” said Fitzgerald. “You can prevent this from happening by simply logging in and making sure all of your information is up-to-date.”

Over the years, Treasurer Fitzgerald has shared with Iowans how to prevent their assets from becoming part of the Great Iowa Treasure Hunt. “Millions of dollars in unclaimed property are turned over to my office annually when companies are unable to locate the lost owners,” stated Fitzgerald. “Fortunately, I have tips to help guide individuals on protecting their assets.”

To prevent your assets from becoming unclaimed property, follow these tips:

• Cash or deposit your checks quickly.

• List every asset in your estate and store the latest bank account statements, insurance policies, stocks certificates, wills, trusts, safe deposit box contents and other papers in a place known to someone you trust.

• Respond to requests from financial institutions or companies for confirmation of account ownership.

• Contact institutions that hold your assets when you change your name or address.

• Use gift cards as soon as possible.

Unclaimed property refers to money and other assets held by financial institutions or companies that have lost contact with the property’s owner for a specific period of time. State law requires these institutions and companies to annually report and deliver unclaimed property to the state treasurer’s office. The assets are then held until the owner or heir of the property is found. Common forms of unclaimed property include savings or checking accounts, stocks, uncashed checks, life insurance policies, utility security deposits and safe deposit box contents.

The Great Iowa Treasure Hunt is holding over $398 million in unclaimed property and has returned over $275 million to more than 592,000 individuals since Fitzgerald started it in 1983. See if you have any unclaimed property by visiting GreatIowaTreasureHunt.gov. Keep up with all of the treasurer’s office programs on Facebook and Twitter.