Legislation would block audits which have save taxpayers millions

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State Capitol (WAND) – Months after the Illinois General Assembly put teeth into unclaimed property laws there is a move to try and undercut the legislation.

State Treasurer Mike Frerichs can initiate audits of life insurance companies and other types of businesses to make sure they are complying with unclaimed property laws.  The audits have allowed Frerichs to recover $550 million dollars in unclaimed death benefits never paid to life insurance policy holders.  He was also able to reach an agreement with Illinois based Kemper to audit its books.  But now a senate bill, SB2901, seeks to outlaw those audits.

“It will provide a get out of jail free card for companies that knowingly keep unclaimed property,” Frerichs told a Statehouse news conference.  “Giving certain crooked corporations an unfair advantage over their competitors.”

The measure appears to have the backing of the state chamber of commerce and Governor Bruce Rauner who attempted to use an amendatory veto last year to block audits.  The legislature was able to override the veto.

In 2016, Frerichs was able to use audits to recover $2.3 million from Sprint owed to 32,000 Illinois residents who did not cash rebate checks.  In the same year, Radio Shack agreed to surrender uncashed rebates worth $140,000 owed to 5,000 Illinois residents.

One of the people getting a rebate as a result of the treasurer’s actions was Chuck Sullivan of Champaign who was owed $50 from Sprint.  The money was owed to him for nearly a decade.

“I could have used that $50 to put gas in my tank, could have bought school supplies, or a pair of shoes for my kids,” Sullivan stated.

Frerichs is vowing to fight efforts to pass SB2901 which is sponsored by Senator Pam Althoff, (R) McHenry.

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