Everyone likes a little extra cash in their pocket. And now Arkansas is making that happen a bit more conveniently for some residents through the use of identity management technology.
The state has moved to an electronic unclaimed property system that has reduced processing times for claims from an average of 30 days down to seven. Arkansas citizens that believe they may have some long lost funds can now log in to a real-time online portal, check for their property and submit a claim for it.
Unclaimed property is money that has been transferred to the state from companies after the rightful owner could not be found. Examples of common unclaimed property include dormant bank accounts, life insurance benefits and uncashed checks. According to data on the Arkansas State Auditor website, roughly $170 million in assets remains unclaimed in the state.
Janet Harris, deputy auditor of state for Arkansas, said the technology was intended to benefit citizens, but has also helped increase the efficiency of internal staff. Instead of spending time on simple transactions, agents now focus on more complex claims such as heirships, which require more one-on-one communication with a claimant.
The system was soft-launched last September to work the bugs out, but officially went live on March 20 as a part of “The Great Arkansas Treasure Hunt,” the state’s annual marketing push to bring the issue of unclaimed property to light.
“Since we had the full statewide launch, we have had about 2,800 electronic claims that have come through,” Harris said. “It has almost doubled our productivity.”
The electronic unclaimed property system uses a citizen-facing portal developed by NIC. The state also partnered with LexisNexis for the technology being used to validate and authenticate the identity of the person filing a claim.
The portal was free, as per the state’s relationship with NIC, while LexisNexis charges a nominal fee each time the system is pinged by the State Auditor’s Office to search for records.
Here’s how the system works:
Once a person enters their information and a match to unclaimed property is found, a person can file a claim. Once finished, the person receives a copy of the claim form and an ID number enabling the claimant to go back and check the status of the claim at any time.
If the information entered — name, address, social security number — is verified by the system, and the amount being claimed is $2,500 or under, the claim is processed and then checked over by management before a check is cut and mailed to that person.
If some of the data entered doesn’t match up to what the state has on file, staff at the State Auditor’s Office go a further step and verify identity using LexisNexis’ Accurint and Instant Authenticate tools. The programs pull data from a variety of sources of public information to help confirm a person’s identity.
Harris said that since September, her staff has found the LexisNexis results to be “extremely accurate,” with only one or two claims that have been denied pending a second level of management approval.
The system isn’t automated for those making claims for above $2,500 or if the claimant isn’t the property owner. That may change in the future, however. Harris added that the State Auditor’s Office is considering raising the $2,500 threshold to $5,000 or possibly up to $10,000.
In the case of claims that aren’t from a property owner, Arkansas requires additional printed documentation from a claimant, such as a copy of a will or an affidavit of heirship.
“That’s not something we can currently capture in the system,” Harris said. “But as we go on and add some enhancements, what we’re hoping to do is allow the claimant to scan that information in. They are still going to have to … some way prove they are entitled to the property, but they can scan and attach it to the record.”
Photo from Shutterstock.
Brian Heaton was a writer for Government Technology magazine from 2011 to mid-2015.