Jun 5, 2023 - News

Iowa is auctioning off abandoned safe deposit boxes

Inside the vault holding abandoned safe deposit box contents at the Iowa treasurer's office. Photo: Courtesy of the State Treasurer of Iowa

Iowa's treasurer listed the contents of dozens of abandoned safe deposit boxes for auction last week.

Why it matters: Millions of dollars in abandoned property are turned over to the state treasurer's office each year from financial institutions and businesses that have lost contact with owners.

  • Dormant bank accounts, uncashed checks and utility deposits are among the common items turned over to the state.
  • People can search and lay claim to their items online via "Great Iowa Treasure Hunt."

Driving the news: The office's last safe deposit box auction was in 2018 and the state's unclaimed property vault is now full.

  • Nearly 30 of the first auction lots end June 14. Sales will be canceled if rightful owners lay claim before then.

What they're saying: These auctions are difficult because they're often people's most prized possessions, Russ Trimble, the treasurer offices' chief of staff, tells Axios.

  • The contents frequently have more sentimental value to owners than monetary worth, he says.
  • Auction revenues are held by the state for owners or their heirs to claim into perpetuity — as is done with other financial accounts.

The intrigue: Some of the goodies include a sports card collection, jewelry and a fancy shaving set.


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