I have been an heir finder for 10 years now. Basically, I find money for people that they know nothing about. Much of the time I work hard and challenging cases that someone else has given up on.
With the economy the way it is now, you would think that our business would be booming--and it should be! Unfortunately, the scammers have been hitting everyone so hard via e-mail and phone that when we attempt to contact someone about money we have found for them, they often will not even talk to us.
A case in point: I made a phone call tonight to let a brother know that there was money left by his sister which even she didn't know about. The man told his wife to hang up because it was just somebody else trying to scam them! I was so mad that he didn't even give me the benefit of the doubt that I tried to call back and leave a message on the answering machine. As soon as they found out it was me, they shut down the answering machine! I'm just about at my wit's end which is why I'm writing this. Just because it seems too good to be true doesn't mean it necessarily is!
I have been a licensed private investigator in Arizona for 10 years and it is a requirement of my job. My company pays for fingerprints, bonding, and licensing from the Arizona Department of Public Safety every two years. I also finally joined the Better Business Bureau a couple of years ago hoping to add some credibility to what we do. I'm PROUD of our A+ rating with NEVER a complaint by anyone. Who wants to complain when they have a windfall they never knew about?
There are billions of dollars left unclaimed--this is over and above Unclaimed Property money which a claimant could easily find. We may work several years on a case, for example, and receive no money at all until the matter is settled and our claimant is paid. (This can take anywhere from 3 months to a couple of years.) The employment agreement we ask our prospective claimants to sign is strictly a contingency agreement, written in plain English. If they receive no money, we don't either! They NEVER pay any money up front. It's a win-win situation for the claimant.
One heir finder is limited to working a few cases at a time. Generally, we need to do a full genealogy work up on the family involved. This information is seldom readily available. It's always hurry up & wait for that piece of information to come in so you can get to the next step.
Many states have various rules on how far back we can go in finding heirs.Sometimes we spend a lot of time on a case only to find out that there is no one left who can claim the money. Those who die at an old age may have heirs 2-5 generations down and not have any idea who their benefactor is.
While I'm doing lots of complaining, this is definitely the most challenging job I have ever had and I truly love what I do. If anyone has any suggestions on how we might improve our initial communication with our prospective clients, I would LOVE to hear from them.
A legitimate heir finder WILL NEVER ask you for any money up-front. Those who do ARE scammers. Report them, please!