Sept - Nov Issue
September 24, 2014

Unclaimed funds — the $13 billion lesson

Source: NYSUT United

I've learned many lessons over the years, but one of them showed me how easy it is to lose track of your own personal money. I have kept a savings account open that I activated more than 40 years ago but infrequently use. One day I received a call from a representative of my bank telling me that because I hadn't made any recent transactions, my account balance would be turned over to the state as unclaimed funds. Luckily, the bank was able to reach me. But, every year, tens of thousands of New Yorkers aren't so fortunate and lose track of their money.

In fact, my office is holding accounts valued at more than $13 billion in lost and forgotten money, also known as unclaimed funds. These unclaimed funds belong to New Yorkers across the state.

Not surprisingly, most unclaimed funds come from old bank accounts. Other sources of unclaimed funds can be insurance accounts, uncashed checks and stocks. After an account has been inactive for three years, banks are required to try to contact the account holder. If they are unsuccessful, the bank turns the money over to my office.

While most of the claims are worth less than $100, the largest outstanding account for one individual that my office holds today is worth more than $1.7 million. Searching for accounts is easy and free, and can be done online or over the phone. Information about unclaimed funds is available on our website at www.osc.state.ny.us.

We've worked hard to simplify the process of searching for and claiming funds so that New Yorkers can be reconnected with their money. Our call center is staffed Monday through Friday during business hours to help you search for and claim lost money. Call center representatives can be reached on our toll-free line at 800-221-9311.

On average, we return $1 million a day.

I encourage you to visit our website or call us to check to see if there is any money waiting for you to claim. And don't forget to share this information with your fellow NYSUT members, family and friends. The moral of the lesson is every penny counts.

— By Thomas P. DiNapoli, New York state comptroller

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