You Might Have Unclaimed Funds

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More than $14 billion unclaimed

In less than two months, more than $77,623,068 has been returned in unclaimed funds by the office of the New York state comptroller, but more than $14 billion (up more than $2 billion since last year) remains in unclaimed funds such as savings accounts, checking accounts, uncashed checks, telephone/utility deposits, rental security deposits, wages, insurance benefits/policies, safe deposit box contents, mortgage insurance refunds, stocks and dividends, mutual funds, certificates of deposit, trust funds and estate proceeds that people have forgotten about or left dormant.

Banks, insurance companies, utilities, investment companies and many other businesses are required by state law to turn over inactive accounts to the state. The state comptroller’s office holds these funds in trust, serving as a custodian of these funds until they can be claimed by their rightful owners.

Seal_of_New_York.svgA simple Internet search is all it takes to see if there are unclaimed funds in your name.
You can perform a search by visiting the state comptroller’s website (www.osc.state.ny.us/ouf). Type in your name and click “submit” to see if there are any funds in the database associated with your name. A last name is required, but the first name can either be a full name or just an initial.

If your name does not come up right away, the comptroller’s office recommends some of the following search tips:

• Narrow the results by entering an entire first name, or expand your search by using the first initial of your first name.
• Check that you did not enter a space before or after any part of the name. Spaces will affect the results.
• Eliminate spaces or punctuation within the last name (i.e., O’Conner – Oconner). Try a few variations of spelling you last name (common misspellings).
• If filtering with “city,” try previous and current cities/towns of residence.
• City names may be abbreviated (ex.: Brooklyn or BKLYN). Try variations of city names such as New York City, NYC, New York or Manhattan.
• Company names may be abbreviated (ex.: AT&T or A T & T or Amer Tel & Tel).

If the search does not turn anything up but you still think there are unclaimed funds in your name, you can call the Office of Unclaimed Funds Communication Center at 800-221-9311 on weekdays from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The state comptroller’s office does not charge a fee to search or file a claim for unclaimed funds.

Nationally, you can visit www.missingmoney.com to search for money in other states. This would be useful if you have lived in other states or have had accounted with companies in other parts of the country.

It’s important to know that the search for your unclaimed money is free. You should never be asked by any website or company to pay a fee or percentage of any monies that are yours. Retrieving your money is also free, and you should never be asked to pay a fee to have this money released to you. Each entity holding unclaimed money for you has a varying claim process, usually by application and proof of identification requirements.

Additional sources for unclaimed money are:

• Search your state’s listing of unclaimed funds and property (www.unclaimed.org).
• Check out webapps.dol.gov/wow if you think you may be owed back wages from your employer.
• Search for unclaimed pension money from companies that went out of business or ended a defined plan (www.search.pbgc.gov/mp).
• Check Internal Revenue Service (IRS) website (www.irs.gov) to find your unclaimed refunds.

Visit www.usa.gov/unclaimed-money for more resources for specific types of missing funds.

What’s there to lose? Spend a few minutes to see if you have unclaimed money. Could be pennies. Could be thousands of dollars.

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Christy Hinko is the managing editor of Anton Media Group’s award-winning special sections and a contributing editor of Long Island Weekly.

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