New Brunswickers could soon be receiving written notice from businesses letting them know they may be owners of unclaimed monetary property.
Under New Brunswick’s Unclaimed Property Act, holders of unclaimed property – like businesses, associations and government organizations – are required to review their books to search for monetary property that belongs to someone else. If they find property valued at $100 or more, they must attempt to locate the owners three to six months before delivering the property to New Brunswick’s Unclaimed Property Program.
If unsuccessful in locating the owners, they must then report and deliver the money to the program, administered by the Financial and Consumer Services Commission (the Commission).
“Notifying apparent owners is among the first steps holders of unclaimed property must take to meet the requirements of the new legislation,” said Andrew Nicholson, director of the Commission’s Unclaimed Property Program. “That means businesses could start sending out letters as early as this month, notifying New Brunswickers they may be holding monetary property that could be theirs.”
The Act, which came into force on January 1, 2022, requires holders to determine if any monetary property they have on their books will become unclaimed property at the end of this calendar year or any of the five preceding years: 2017 to 2021. For monetary property to be considered unclaimed, it typically means a business hasn’t been in contact with the owner in the last three years.
New Brunswickers who receive written notice – either by email or letter -- can contact the business to claim the money or re-establish contact.
“In other jurisdictions with unclaimed property programs, scam artists have tried to capitalize on these programs by sending fake letters demanding a fee or percentage payment to collect unclaimed property on behalf of the owner,” Nicholson said. “We want to let New Brunswickers know that there is no fee in New Brunswick to claim your monetary property, either from the business who contacts you or from the Commission once the property has been delivered to the program.”
If apparent owners fail to contact the holders by a specific date, as set out in the written notice, the property will be delivered to the program during the first reporting period: January 1 to March 31, 2023. Later in 2023, the Commission anticipates New Brunswickers will be able to search and claim their unclaimed property through a free online database.
The Commission, which administers the program, estimates thousands of dollars go unclaimed every year in the province, forgotten in credit union accounts, uncashed cheques, security deposits, and more. In 2021, for example, the British Columbia Unclaimed Property Society returned approximately $1.7 million to claimants.
Audio files of Andrew Nicholson, FCNB’s Director of Unclaimed Property:
FCNB has the mandate to protect consumers and enhance public confidence in the financial and consumer marketplace through the provision of regulatory and educational services. It is responsible for the administration and enforcement of provincial legislation regulating mortgage brokers, payday lenders, real estate, securities, insurance, pensions, credit unions, trust and loan companies, cooperatives, and a wide range of other consumer legislation. It is an independent Crown corporation funded by the regulatory fees and assessments paid by the regulated sectors. Online educational tools and resources are available at www.fcnb.ca.