State Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias is committed to bringing the state of Illinois into the 21st century. His latest step toward modernizing the state was to make the auctioning of unclaimed property on eBay a permanent initiative.
Beginning in August of 2007 the state began to place unclaimed items from safe deposit boxes up for bids on the popular online auction site.
Since that time more than 150,000 people have visited the Treasurer's store on eBay, according to Sara Wojcicki, deputy communications director for the State Treasurer.
Prior to using the Internet to sell these items, the Treasurer's office held an auction annually at the State Fair. During these auctions the average crowd, Wojcicki estimated, was about 150 people.
"[Treasurer] Giannoulias made the decision to put these items on eBay to increase visibility and enues. In the year that the state has been online we have made more than 80 times the appraised value of the items," Wojicicki said. "So far we have been very successful and we will continue to sell items on eBay."
Illinois State University Junior special education major Courtney Brokamp is not certain she would be in the market to shop for other people's unclaimed items.
"I find it kind of weird that it's other people's lost items, and that the state can sell them. I would probably be uncomfortable buying things like that," Brokamp said.
Wojiciki explained, however, that the money that the state makes from the sale of unclaimed items is always available to the rightful individual. She explained that safe deposit boxes become property of the state after five years of inactivity. The state is then required to hold on to that box for a minimum of four more years. At that point the Treasurers office may take the items and sell them to clear space for other boxes.
Anyone who believes that they have unclaimed items that belong to them can search the "Cash Dash" feature on the Treasurer's Web site. The tool is located prominently on the site and is simple to use. Site visitors must simply enter their names or the names of their relatives to determine whether or not they are owed any money or property by the state.
When items from the Cash Dash go unclaimed, many of them end up in the Treasurer's eBay store. The store features jewelry, coins and currency, sports cards and other items, such as silverware, that have significant monetary value.
It seems that the eBay store is a big hit, not only with the Treasurer's office, but also with the users of the site. The site has received much positive feedback since its inception.