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Reclaimed funds

October 4, 2010 - Rob Weaver
It's that time of year when you pull coats, pants, hoodies and other cool-weather gear from closets and drawers where they have been dormant since spring. Once in a while, you'll stick a hand in a pocket of that clothing and find some change, maybe even a dollar bill or two.

Imagine finding $1,318.

A fax received today from the Ohio Department of Commerce states its Division of Unclaimed Funds paid 41,992 claims worth more than $55.3 million this year. That's an average of $1,318.

Unclaimed funds are just what they sound like: Money (or the rights to money) in dormant or forgotten accounts. Examples include old bank acounts, forgotten rent and utility deposits, uncashed checks, undelivered stock certificates and uncahsed insurance policies.

In my case, a few years ago, it was a long-forgotten security deposit with an electric company while renting an off-campus apartment during my college days. It wasn't close to the $1,300 average cited this year, but it did buy my wife and I dinner.

How did I find it? I noticed an advertisement in The Advertiser-Tribune citing the division's Online Treasure Hunt. On a whim, I surfed to and followed the prompts. The division says that during the last fiscal year, it paid out 31,900 claims initiated online worth nearly $23 million.

Now, here's another number to consider: The division collected $167 million from holders of unclaimed funds last year. Which means there are millions more waiting to be claimed.

Good hunting.


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