The government could owe you thousands

Mark Segraves,

WASHINGTON – Need a little extra cash? Search this database to see if any of the tens of millions of dollars in unclaimed property is yours.

The District’s Chief Financial Officer published a 35 page insert in The Washington Post on Thursday listing thousands of individuals and businesses for whom the CFO is currently holding property.

Most unclaimed property is in the form of money, stocks, bonds, utility deposits, insurance proceeds, unused gift certificates or credit refunds. When banks or other institutions have accounts that go dormant for extended periods of time, they are required by state laws to report that to the state. In Virginia, banks and financial institutions have to report dormant accounts after 5 years.

The Maryland state comptroller’s office is currently holding an estimated 800,000 accounts, worth more than $900 million according to the state’s website, which provides data for past years.

“For fiscal year 2010, the State Comptroller’s Office returned over $47.8 million in unclaimed funds to 49,005 individuals,” the website states. “The average claim was $975.”

Accord to the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators, $1.75 billion was returned to the rightful owners in fiscal year 2006 from almost 2 million accounts. At least $32.9 billion is currently being safeguarded by state treasurers and other agencies for 117 million accounts, according to NAUPA, which has a searchable data base that allows you to check the entire country for unclaimed property.

States also auction off unclaimed property, many of them on eBay. But most states keep the money in a trust for the rightful owners, only auctioning off property like jewelry and rare coins found in abandoned safe deposit boxes due to a lack of storage space.

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(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)

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