Payees of child support may be unaware that there are funds available for withdrawal through a process called escheatment. Escheat is a procedure whereby the state may acquire title to abandoned property if no rightful owner appears after a number of years.
Payees who use a ReliaCard to receive and use child support funds may have their account deemed “abandoned” and the funds will be transferred to the Iowa Treasurer’s office through escheatment.
Child support is required to make every effort to contact the owner of the account and establish activity. If CSRU is unable to make contact, the funds are transferred to the Iowa Treasury. The funds will remain in the custody of the State of Iowa indefinitely until the rightful owner or heirs come forward to claim them. There is no charge to claim the funds.
What is a ReliaCard?
The ReliaCard is a reloadable, prepaid debit card issued by U.S. Bank. The ReliaCard is not a credit card. Recipients may choose to receive child support payments by either direct deposit or the ReliaCard. An Automatic Deposit form and ReliaCard information will be sent after the first payment. Recipients who do not authorize direct deposits will automatically receive a ReliaCard. The card will come by mail from U.S. Bank with instructions on how to activate the card. The card must be activated before it can be used.
The card may be used for goods or services at any business that accepts Visa debit cards. It can also be used to withdraw cash at ATMs or bank tellers. The ReliaCard can be used to pay for gas only if it is paid for inside with the cashier, the card cannot be used to pay for gas at the pump.
Must payees withdraw funds from their ReliaCard within a certain amount of time?
The ReliaCard is an account managed by U.S. Bank that is subject to Iowa state and federal banking laws. Under Iowa Code 556.2, unclaimed or abandoned property is required to be turned over to a state authority. An account is presumed abandoned if:
• There have not been any withdrawals or deposits by the owner for 3 years, AND
• The owner has not contacted the bank or completed an action that indicates an interest in the account during that 3-year period. Qualifying actions include: making an ATM withdrawal, making a purchase with the ReliaCard, or speaking with U.S. Bank customer service with an account inquiry or address change.
The Child Support Recovery Unit (CSRU) makes deposits to the ReliaCard on the payee’s behalf, but the payee is the owner of the account. Even if CSRU has made deposits on the payee’s behalf within the last three years, funds may still be escheated if the payee does not complete an action to show interest in the account.
Where do escheated funds go?
In Iowa, escheated funds are transferred to the Iowa Treasurer’s Office where they are held indefinitely. There is no time limit for how long payees have to claim funds. U.S. Bank must transfer escheated funds to the Treasurer’s Office by November 1st. Once the Treasurer’s Office receives the funds, it may take several weeks for the Treasury to process the payments. It may be mid to late November until funds appear in a web search.
How do payees claim escheated funds?
U.S. Bank’s escheatment phone number is (855) 372-9647, which can provide answers to account specific questions and will send a letter to the payee with claim instructions. U.S. Bank’s regular customer service number may not be aware of the escheatment process and may tell payees there is no money in the account.
Payees with an Iowa address can search for their funds through www.greatiowatreasurehunt.gov.
Payees with an Iowa address should go to www.greatiowatreasurehunt.gov and follow these steps:
1. Go to the Property Search page on the home page. Go to Claiming Property then “Search Unclaimed Properties”, click the GET STARTED button in the middle of the page.
2. Type the payee’s name into the Name/Business Name field and click SEARCH.
3. Once the payee has located the property that belongs to them, check the CLAIM button and click FILE YOUR CLAIM to begin the claims process.
4. Select the payee’s “Relationship to Owner” for each property they are claiming. If the payee is the owner of the property, select “Owner”.
5. Complete the information as the claimant. This should include the payee’s current mailing address as it will be the address where the funds are mailed. Click NEXT.
6. Confirm the mailing address. This is to ensure the check is sent to a valid mailing address.
7. Review all property being claimed and verify current information. If the information is correct, agree to the terms and click SUBMIT to create the claim and generate a claim number.
Payees with a non-Iowa address can search for funds at www.missingmoney.com.
How to prevent funds from escheating.
To prevent accounts from becoming abandoned, payees should keep their accounts active and make deposits or withdrawals, update contact information, or contact U.S. Bank at least every three years.