Counting my unclaimed funds before they’re mine

My mail carrier brings me a bundle of junk, the antiquated version of spam, every Monday. I usually tear open the envelopes and glance at most of the stuff before I rip it to shreds and toss it in the recycling basket. Weekly offers arrive by mail from banks that want to sell me 0% interest credit cards for a 3% up-front fee. Though I don’t own a shredder, I try not to pass along convoluted financing offers to Dumpster divers, along with my identity. Seriously, why should I worry? Most banks would loan my daughter’s cat half a million dollars. He doesn’t need to assume my identity.

This week, I received one of those amusing “We found unclaimed funds in your name!” form letters from an enterprise in California. Quite a lot of enterprise goes on in California. I glanced at the form letter, flawlessly formatted by a computer program without any human intervention, and I was intrigued. It contained my old name, the name of my former mortgage lender, and the address of a condo I owned more than a few years ago. Whoa! I figured maybe something was up. Still, I doubted the accuracy of the amount of cash the letter suggested I could claim from the government. Not coincidentally, the form letter was designed to look governmental.

Hoping to keep for myself as much of the mysterious unclaimed funds as possible, rather than share a percentage with the letter’s originator (an enterprising 14-year-old in Bakersfield), I tapped Google and quickly located Online Treasure Hunt. Online Treasure Hunt? What? Fortunately, I know how to decode a URL, because Online Treasure Hunt looked considerably less governmental than junk mail, despite the State of Ohio’s endorsement.

Excitedly, I filled out the user-friendly online search form emblazoned with the slogan “Ohio.gov So Much to Discover!” gasp! Incredibly, I discovered $587 in real estate escrow funds, which the mortgage company decided to keep for a few years instead of returning to me when I sold my condo.

The Online Treasure Hunt website generated an application form to be printed out, notarized, and mailed to the State of Ohio along with some supporting documents proving ownership of the money. Around Christmas, I should receive 95% of the cash, or about $550. The Ohio Division of Unclaimed Funds will deduct 5% for handling the claim. The teenager in Bakersfield would have taken another 10% to handle the five-minute electronic transaction.

By the way, if you’ve never kept your cash in Ohio and don’t know exactly where in the United States your unclaimed funds might turn up, you can try the free national service MissingMoney.com. Those in the UK can check for unclaimed funds through mylostaccount.org.uk.

Grandma T.
I’m grateful—but of course, not 10% grateful—to the company in California for tipping me off. And I can’t help thinking of my Grandma T., among whose favorite retorts was “Spend, and God’ll send.”

Grandma, these days I’d probably call it karma, but I surely hope you’re enjoying the last laugh.

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