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The Cost of Found Money

Ignoring escheatment laws could leave your business open to liability.

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This story appears in the May 2010 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Some owners may look at an uncashed vendor check or unredeemed gift card as found money, but ignoring laws about abandoned --also called escheatment--could be costly.

Escheatment is a common law--practiced in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, as well as Quebec, British Columbia and Alberta in Canada--that reverts unclaimed property to the state of the property owner's last-known address after a defined period of time.

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