BY MARK MATHOSIAN
Today, I want to remind you about a government program I wrote about before and will continue to write about as long as it exists. It is a free state service you should tell your family about and all your friends and co-workers. I am referring to North Carolina’s unclaimed property database managed by the North Carolina Department of State Treasurer (NCDST). As I write this column, the NCDST has over $650 million in unclaimed property rightfully belonging to North Carolina citizens, and one of those citizens may be you.
When people hear the phrases abandoned property or unclaimed assets, they immediately think of a house or land. Well, it could be some type of real property but not necessarily. Abandoned property takes many forms, including insurance checks, unclaimed utility and rental deposits, unclaimed payroll checks, stocks, bonds, checking and savings accounts, gold & silver bullion, jewelry, guns, and rare coins. The list goes on and on because just about anything can be designated abandoned, and you would be surprised at what’s found in bank safe deposit boxes.
Property and money become unclaimed because a business, bank, insurance company, government agency, or other legal entity loses track of you due to an incorrect address or other missing information. By law, these funds are escheated (transferred) to the Department of State Treasurer for safekeeping after a specified period of time. As new funds are added, the website is updated, which means even if you weren’t on the list before, your name might be there now. According to the State Constitution, interest earned on the fund may be used for grants and loans for worthy and needy North Carolina students in State-supported institutions of higher education. The last time I wrote about this program, unclaimed assets were just over $550 million. Since then, that amount has grown by $150 million. That means people are either not checking unclaimed property records or not checking as often as they should.
Reclaiming your money via an e-claim is easy and straightforward. Enter your name in the search boxes at the Department of Treasurer website, and an automatic search of the database occurs. The website is www.nctreasurer.com/. Click on “NC Cash Program” at the top of the screen and in the drop down menu choose “Search for unclaimed cash or property.”
If money is owed to you, your name will pop up. If there is a match, read, fill out, and sign a claim form and provide documentation required by the State to prove you are the rightful owner or heir to the asset. While online, you can check names other than yours, so it becomes fun, like participating in an online treasure hunt. Send all forms and required documentation to the Unclaimed Property address on the website. For assistance, call (800) 582-0615 or send an email to email@example.com. After your claim form and necessary documentation has been received, your claim will be processed as quickly as possible.
Even though it is highly unlikely, if you don’t have access to a computer, you should know the Department of State Treasurer also provides staffed booths at conferences, fairs, and meetings where you can search for unclaimed property at a booth. Check the Treasurer’s website for details on upcoming conferences, fairs, and meeting locations. You can also check for abandoned property in the state where you previously lived. Most states have an unclaimed property website you can check via computer. If you want more information about other states, visit the website of the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators, unclaimed.org.
Finally, statistically speaking, for the 2017-2018 fiscal year there have been 58,914 claims filed with the state of North Carolina and $3,767,030 in unclaimed assets returned to rightful owners. So, what are you waiting for? Get on your computer or smart device and start clicking away.