Oregon To Auction Abandoned Safe Deposit Boxes

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Photo: Getty Images

Oregon State Treasury will celebrate National Unclaimed Property Day by holding an online auction of items from abandoned safe deposit boxes received by our unclaimed property team. Bidding is open now on first edition books, art, coins and currency, jewelry, and other unique treasures from safe deposit box contents collected through Oregon’s Unclaimed Property Program, with a live online auction scheduled for Thursday, February 3.

“Events like National Unclaimed Property Day and our online auctions help remind people to go online and check to see if Oregon is holding money that belongs to them,” said Oregon State Treasurer Tobias Read. “We took in our largest amount ever of unclaimed funds this fall, and we want to return every dollar to Oregonians.”

The live auction will begin at 4 p.m. on Thursday, February 3. Capitol Auction & Estate Services will host the auction on its website, and pre-bidding on items is available now at capitolauction.net. This is the second all-online auction Treasury has conducted. The first, held in November, brought in more than $25,700 to Oregon’s Unclaimed Property Program. Well in advance of any auction, program staff attempt to contact safe deposit box owners before items are put up for sale. Items such as military medals or other insignia are never sold through auctions; instead, people can search for unclaimed medals on our website: oregon.gov/treasury.

The auction date was selected to align with National Unclaimed Property Day on February 1, which puts the spotlight on the millions of people across the country whose unclaimed property is protected by programs like Oregon’s. Oregon’s Unclaimed Property Program safeguards assets on behalf of original owners or their heirs in perpetuity. “These convenient online auctions help us reach potential buyers across Oregon and the country while reducing our storage of older unclaimed items,” said Trust Property Director Claudia Ciobanu. “The program overall and special projects like auctions are designed to ensure we’re protecting people’s unclaimed money until they step up to claim it.”

For safe deposit auctions, proceeds from all items sold are held in trust in the Common School Fund, an investment fund overseen by Oregon State Treasury. The fund generates interest earnings that are distributed to Oregon K-12 public schools, while the principal amount from each sale is saved in Oregon’s Unclaimed Property Program for the item’s owners to claim. Oregonians’ ability to submit claims on unclaimed money held in their name never expires.

Each fall, companies, nonprofits, and government agencies across the state must report and remit unclaimed property to Oregon State Treasury. During the 2021 reporting period last October – the first since the program moved to Treasury – a record $80.8 million was reported, representing property such as uncashed checks, unreturned deposits, forgotten bank accounts, and abandoned safe deposit boxes.

Since the program came to Oregon State Treasury in July 2021, more than $13.3 million has been returned to nearly 11,000 claimants. Oregonians who want to see if the state is holding unclaimed property on their behalf can visit unclaimed.oregon.gov and search on their name.

Source: Oregon Treasury Department

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