LAWRENCE COUNTY, Ky. (WSAZ) -- At some point, many of us have gotten a phone call from someone we didn’t know, telling us that we had a check or cash waiting for us. While they’re often scams, phone calls like these are turning out to be good for some people in Kentucky.
On Wednesday, people showed up to the Lawrence County Courthouse in hopes of retrieving unclaimed property checks from the Kentucky State Treasury. The event was part of the treasury’s “Treasure Finders” initiative, which has given back $72 million to its rightful owners in the last five years alone.
For most, it’s money they didn’t know they were missing.
“That’s the thing about lost property,” Todd Hollenbach, Kentucky State Treasurer, said. “If you knew it was lost, you’d have gone looking for it long ago, and it wouldn’t have stayed that way.”
Hollenbach said people are surprised to find out they have unclaimed property. One common way this happens is when a bank account or valuable item is “abandoned” for a certain number of years. If the owner of the account cannot be reached, Kentucky law requires the property to be turned over to the State Treasury, along with the last known address of the owner.
There are ways to look up if you have unclaimed property -- searching on the Treasury’s website or calling the Treasury’s hotline -- or you may receive a call from local volunteers through one of these “Treasure Finders” events.
Todd Webb was among those who showed up in Lawrence County to claim two checks -- one related to his business and one personal. He said he initially found about the Treasury’s event through Facebook and looked his information up online. He was then contacted by a county official who told him to come in Wednesday for the event. Combined, the two checks he received amounted to $175.
“The addresses [related to the checks] were slightly wrong,” Webb said. “One had an old mailing address. The other had a mailing address that was a typo.”
That’s often the case with these checks, according to Hollenbach, which makes it difficult to find the owners. Having local volunteers call people in their community to let them know they have money waiting, Hollenbach said, is better than simply having someone from the Treasury call.
“[The volunteers] have generational knowledge of their community that we don’t possess,” Hollenbach said. “They can look down a list and if they don’t know the person they’re looking at, they might know their aunt or their uncle or their sister or their brother. They have ways to get ahold of them that we don't.”
There’s also the fear that it might all be a scam.
“A lot of them are wondering if maybe they’ve got unpaid taxes, and the sheriff is going to be waiting for them,” Hollenbach said.
Webb said he thinks what the Treasury is doing is good.
“I have a daughter who is a senior in high school, and I have a daughter who’s in fourth grade,” Webb said of what he plans to do with the money. “I would assume I’ll spend it on them.”