CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) – Finding your money you didn’t even know was missing could be as easy as a quick search online.
It is estimated that 1 in 10 Americans have unclaimed funds sitting in government offices, in their name.
“There are no taxes involved in this,” said West Virginia state treasurer Riley Moore. “It may sound too good to be true, but I promise you it’s true.”
The West Virginia Treasurer’s Office distributes about $15 million a year. But they have about $300 million on hand, safe for now.
Even though the program is called Unclaimed Property, no real estate is involved.
It could be an old utility bill, a refund, an overpayment, or accrued interest on an account, or even mining rights.
“It can be expired checks, life insurance policies, safe deposit boxes, banks, that have not been claimed and then come to our office,” Moore said. “Then it’s our job to make sure those dollars get back to their rightful owners.”
There’s no statute of limitations, so the money could be decades old, just waiting for someone to claim it.
“I’m not here to take your money,” Moore said. “I’m here to give you back your money. So it’s always exciting to find unclaimed property that people didn’t know they had. Especially when it comes to a life insurance policy or something like that which usually ends up being quite large. Sometimes we issue checks for hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Dollar amounts may vary. It can be a few dollars for one individual or several hundred thousand for someone else.
The Treasurer’s Office is also working to improve the process for returning funds to citizens of West Virginia.
During the recent legislative session, lawmakers passed House Bill 4511, which modernizes the state’s unclaimed property laws and reduces the amount of paperwork needed to complete many transactions. This will streamline the process and make the program more transparent.
The bill, which was signed into law by Gov. Jim Justice, also creates a new automated program for handling certain common claims to get checks to people faster.
The new legislation will come into force on July 1.
“If it’s $5,000 or less and we can verify their identity ourselves, we can just mail that check in,” Moore said. “So we’re excited to be able to do that, so it’s not so much work on the individual side. A big step in modernizing state government and returning money to rightful owners.
We researched the names of our colleagues and discovered that at least ten staff members had money waiting for them. Journalist Kelsey Souto was able to return almost $1,000 to her colleagues.
Their database is updated often, so keep checking even if you can’t find your name. You can also search for friends, family members, relatives, neighbors and loved ones. If you find someone you know, you can send them a link to complete and claim the article.
Search your name in a national database here.
Visit the West Virginia website through this link. You can reach them by phone at (800) 642-8687.
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