WSAZ Investigates | Finding your money
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) - Finding your money, that you didn’t even know was missing, could be as simple as quick online search.
An estimated 1 in 10 Americans have unclaimed funds that are sitting in government offices, in their name.
“There are no taxes involved in this,” said Riley Moore, West Virginia State Treasurer. “It might sound too good to be true, but I promise you, it’s true.”
The West Virginia Treasurer’s Office doles out about $15 million a year. But they have roughly $300 million on-hand, securely stashed at this time.
Even though the program is called Unclaimed Property, there’s no actual real estate involved.
It could be an old utility bill, a refund, an overpayment or interest accrued on an account, even mineral rights.
“It might be expired checks, could be life insurance policies, safety deposit boxes, banks, that have gone unclaimed and then come to our office,” said Moore. “Then it is our job to make sure those dollars get back to their rightful owners.”
There’s no statute of limitations, so the money could be decades old, just waiting on someone to claim it.
“I am not here to take your money,” said Moore. “I’m here to give you your money back. So it’s always exciting to find unclaimed property that people didn’t realize that they had. Particularly when it’s life insurance policy or something like that which usually ends up being quite sizable. Sometimes we’re handing back checks in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.”
The dollar amounts can vary. It may be just a few dollars for one individual or several hundred thousand for someone else.
The Treasurer’s Office is also working to improve the process of returning funds to West Virginia citizens.
During the recent legislative session, lawmakers passed House Bill 4511, which modernizes the state’s unclaimed property laws and reduces the amount of paperwork required to complete many transactions. This will streamline the process and make the program more transparent.
The bill, which was signed into law by Gov. Jim Justice, also creates a new automated program for processing some common claims to get checks to people faster.
The new legislation will go into effect on July 1.
“If it is $5000 or less and we can verify their identity on our own, we can just send that check in the mail,” said Moore. “So we’re excited to be able to do that so it’s not so much work on the individual side. A big step modernization in state government, and getting money back to the rightful owners.”
We searched our co-workers names and found at least ten staff members had money waiting on them. Reporter Kelsey Souto was able to return nearly $1,000 back to her colleagues.
They database is updated often, so keep checking back even if you don’t find your name. You can also search for friends, family members, relatives, neighbors and loved ones. If you find someone you know, you can send them a link to fill out and claim the item.
The program is entirely free, at no point should you enter any credit or debit card information. It does not cost any money to search or file a claim.
Search your name through a national database here. That will reroute you to the specific state’s website to file a claim.
Visit West Virginia’s website through this link. You can reach them by phone at (800) 642-8687.
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