Every year, millions of people lose track of money. Whether from inactive bank accounts, stock certificates, unredeemed gift cards, life insurance policies that were never cashed or tax refund checks that never made it to the recipient, millions of dollars go unclaimed. By law, companies are required to turn the money over to the state comptroller’s office, where it is kept safe on the owner’s behalf.
You can easily find out if some of these unclaimed funds are yours by visiting the comptroller’s Web site at www.osc.state.ny.us, clicking on “Search for Unclaimed Funds” and typing in your name. You can also call 1-800-221-9311 between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. The service is free.
In addition, the comptroller’s office travels to numerous events statewide with its Unclaimed Funds booth. People can check the computers on site to see if they are owed unclaimed funds. For a complete list of Unclaimed Funds booth locations, visit www.osc.state.ny.us.
The state holds $9 billion in abandoned and unclaimed property in 23 million different accounts. Last year, $194 million was returned to the rightful owners. In most cases, claims are between $50 and $100, but there have been cases where thousands have been returned.
Though it’s easy to lose track of things, to avoid this aggravation of finding your lost money, stay on top of your finances by:
- Keeping your accounts active;
- Cashing all checks promptly;
- Keeping accurate financial records;
- Notifying all financial institutions when you move; and
- Telling a family member or trusted friend where you store you financial records.
And be wary of scam artists who may try to obtain your personal information using your unclaimed funds as a cover. Businesses may also offer to get your money back “for a fee.” Remember, the best and safest way to recover money is through the state comptroller’s office.