NEW YORK–Imagine that you had money you didn’t know about just waiting to be claimed. For $12 billion of New York state residents’ money, that’s exactly the case.
As hard as the New York State Unclaimed Funds Office works, though, they can only manage to match an average of $1 million a day total with the rightful owners. The office, which operates under the State Comptroller, uses records that date back to 1943 to track and hold money that goes missing from its rightful owner.
“The Comptroller’s trying to put the money back in the hands of New Yorkers,” said Nikki Jones, Deputy Press Secretary for New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli.
The funds can come from many sources: old bank accounts, unclaimed stocks and bonds, or a forgotten rental deposit. The majority of unclaimed funds are under $100, but some payouts are huge.
According to Jones, one of the largest payouts to a single recipient was $4 million for a stock account. A current account for $1.7 million is currently waiting for its rightful claimant.
So why not just publicize the person’s name and tell them there is $1.7 million waiting for them? Under the Abandoned Property Law, no identifying factors about the owner of the money can be made public.
“Our office has attempted to search for the owner by name and was not able to identify an address,” said Jones about the $1.7 million. She added that one effective method they employ to match people with their money are in-person search and claim events throughout the state and New York City.
“The Office of Unclaimed funds frequently partners with legislators, sends representatives to public events and works with membership organizations to help spread the word about unclaimed funds,” said Jones.
During one recent four-hour event in a New York City borough, $37,000 was matched with several people. Jones said that typically people who submit claims don’t even know their claim amount until they get a check.
Though the public events are effective, the majority of inquiries are processed online. They average about 5,000 a day. The busiest times of the year for unclaimed funds are November for banks, and March for brokers and corporations.
Money from the $12 billion unclaimed funds account that doesn’t get matched with its owner will sit in perpetuity in the state’s account. Some of the money goes to a general fund, but at no time can any of it be used and not returned when claimed.
There are several upcoming events in Brooklyn and the Bronx where people can search for unclaimed money. Information can also be accessed at any time online at www.osc.state.ny.us or by calling 1-800-221-9311.