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Treasurer Roby Smith Announces Unclaimed Property Auction


May 26th, 2023 by Ric Hanson

DES MOINES – State Treasurer Roby Smith has announced an auction to sell contents from abandoned safe deposit boxes. “Each year, financial institutions turn over contents from abandoned safe deposit boxes to my office as unclaimed property,” said Smith. “While it is heartbreaking to have to auction the cherished contents of these safe deposit boxes, we have tried for years to reunite them with their rightful owner without any success, and we just don’t have the space to continue to hold on to them. The items in this sale are some that have been held for over 10 years.” Proceeds from the auction stay in the Great Iowa Treasure Hunt for the rightful owners to claim.

Prior to any auction, the Treasurer’s Office actively searches for the owner. “We send out mailings, publish names in newspapers, stay active on social media and participate in events like the Iowa State Fair, to encourage people to search their name. Through these efforts, we find thousands of people each year,” Smith stated. “If an owner comes forward before the auction, we will return the item rather than sell it.”

The first auction will begin on Tuesday, May 30th, hosted by Lone Star Auctioneers, which specializes in selling unclaimed safe deposit box contents from state unclaimed property programs. The auction website link is IowaUnclaimedProperty.org. Bidding is open to anyone registered and approved on Lone Star Auctioneers with a valid U.S. mailing address. “Using an online auction allows a larger audience from across the country to participate and helps us secure the highest bid possible for the owners,” concluded Smith.

Every year, millions of dollars in abandoned property are turned over to the State Treasurer’s Office. Unclaimed property refers to money and other assets held by financial institutions, businesses and organizations that have lost contact with the owner for a specific period of time. In addition to abandoned safe deposit box contents, other common forms of unclaimed property include dormant checking and saving accounts, uncashed checks, lost stocks, life insurance policies and utility deposits.