Unclaimed Property
Sep 22 2015

By Regina Crites--Unclaimed Property

Over the next few days the latest Unclaimed Property Bulletin from the West Virginia State Treasurer’s Office will be distributed to various newspapers throughout the 55 counties. Some people will get excited and start looking right away for their names or those of family members. Others though, won’t bother to look at the insert and will toss it aside with the grocery ad. Would these same people throw away a lottery ticket without even taking the time to scratch off the silver coating to see if they won? Probably not but they are sure they don’t have any unclaimed property and they can’t be sure they won’t win the lottery. Yeah right.

Based on my many years of experience working in the Unclaimed Property Division I have come up with three reasons you think you don’t have unclaimed property and the real reasons you just might:

1.    I have never had any money to lose! There is no way I have an account I didn’t know about... In reality you do not have to be rich to have unclaimed funds. Consider college students putting down the utility deposit on their first apartment. Once school is out, they cannot wait to leave town. Helps explain why they didn’t take the time to notify the gas or electric company of their forwarding address to return the deposited funds. Besides, those who have loads of money usually have staff to help with the tedious job of managing the accounts.  

2.    I have never bought stocks or bonds so that property can’t be mine… Sometimes parents or family members think it is a great idea to buy a child stock in the Walt Disney Company, Mattel or McDonald’s as birthday or holiday presents. After all, how many video games can a kid play? The stock gets tucked away in the parents’ safe deposit box and forgotten about. Just because the stock certificate is still there doesn’t mean the account wasn’t reported as unclaimed by the corporation. Forget to cash a dividend check or respond to a corporate action and the clock on dormancy will start ticking to label the account as abandoned.  

If you have ever bought life insurance, you may now be a stockholder. A few years ago, the West Virginia State Treasurer’s Office received over 28,000 accounts from one life insurance group when they converted from being a mutually owned company to a stock owned company and the owners could not be located at the address on the records of the holder. Even though over 5,300 claims have been paid out we still have over 22,000 accounts worth more than 7 million dollars for owners of the demutualization that have not come forward.    

3.    I am organized, keep excellent records and have a great memory. I have never even lost my car keys! Believe it or not the State Treasurer’s Office is holding more than 1.5 Million dollars in properties coded as Wages, Payroll or Salary comprised of over 20,000 accounts. How do people survive without cashing their pay checks?? Maybe they left a job and didn’t remember that their pay was delayed by two weeks and they were still due another check. Some of the accounts were turned over to us by another state because West Virginia was the last address of record so even if you have always worked in another state, it is possible we could still have money for you.

So, the next time an Unclaimed Property Bulletin happens to cross your path, please don’t use it to line the bird cage without at least checking for your name first. If you don’t find it there you can still log on to our website to see if we have property for you. The paper advertisement is only a partial list of the most recent accounts we have received and the website is a complete listing of accounts $25 and up. Good luck!

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West Virginia State Treasurer's Office
1900 Kanawha Boulevard
Capitol Complex Building #1, Room E-145
Charleston, West Virginia 25305
304-558-5000 Toll Free: 800-422-7498

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