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  1. badhatharry says:

    You’re telling me it’s a hassle? I’ve been trying to help a Prince from Nairobi get his money out of an account, and so far it’s cost me fifteen thousand dollars and six months of my time.

  2. Amelie says:

    That happened to my grandmother with her inherited IRA a few years after my grandfather died. To receive the letter stating they were turning the account over to the state unless she ran through some hoops, was very distressing. I can see it happening to a lot of widows or widowers with inherited IRA’s that haven’t reached the age for minimum distribution.

  3. badhatharry says:

    @Amelie: All right. My stupid joke next to a story about the state trying to take an elderly widow’s money makes me feel like an asshole.

  4. triplehelix1919 says:

    its called escheatment see []

  5. This happened to me with an account my Father opened for me with his local bank. Even though he went in all the time, and knew the banker, they never let him know they turned the money over to the state. I have all of this paper work to fill out to get it back.

  6. forgottenpassword says:


    I tried to get some unclaimed property that my elderly father was owed & some of the hoops they want you to jump thru were insane. One being to provide a piece of mail (from over 10 years ago) to prove who you really are the person who deserves it. The county changed our rural address 2 times in that period. And who keeps mail from 10 years ago?

    I figured that the money my father was owed was roughly less than $200, but it was an unglodly pain in the ass to try to obtain it… so we just gave up. I wonder if the state does this on purpose to discourage people from getting their money.

  7. TheUncleBob says:

    If I have an account with a negative balance, does it get turned over to the state after three years? ;)

  8. RedmondDesomma says:

    It’s not just hoops. My bank charged a “reactivation fee” when my savings
    account went dormant. As petty vengeance I fill out their cute little
    customer questionnaire every single time I go in and mark “extremely

  9. shoelace414 says:

    I try to make an effort to contact all my accounts somehow, someway on or around my birthday every year.

  10. lukobe says:

    Aren’t they supposed to make every effort to contact you before your property escheats to the state?

  11. forgottenpassword says:

    Note: I STRONGLY suggest that if you DO go looking for any unclaimed property…. that you go to your own state’s website (instead of as you can usually get much more info going thru your own state’s unclaimed property website. Happy hunting!

  12. astrochimp says:

    I wish I had my own government so I could get billions of dollars in kickbacks from banks. I wonder what favours the latter get in return…

  13. evslin says:

    @TheUncleBob: The bank would write the account off and send you to collections long before the 3 year mark, I think.

  14. Subliminal0182 says:

    @lukobe: Yes. The bank I work at, we have escheatment sheets, a list of account holders whose accounts went dormant and have been for five years (I believe). We try to contact them with whatever phone number, address we have from day one of the account being dormant.

    Accounts usually become dormant when there’s been no withdrawals for about a year. You can make all the deposits you want physically or have ACH deposits/credits (direct deposits), but unless there’s a withdrawal at least once a year, it’s going to become dormant. This way we know the client is active-IE has not passed away and their social security checks are direct depositing into their account. Imagine if an identity thief gets hold of that account information if we didn’t put dormant statuses on…It’s a person who’s passed away, and it’s the federal government’s money (since the person’s died)..creates a lot of liability.

    An easy way is to, every few months or so, log into your online banking (if available), and transfer $1.00 from the account you don’t use much (ex. savings or money market) into your checking, then transfer make another transfer of $1.00 from checking back into the other account.

    Also, there’s a lot of clients I’ve talked to that have moved and failed to notify the bank. Not a case of forgetting to notify the bank, just not doing it. Many I’ve talked to, “assume” that the bank will somehow find out the new address and information. What?! There isn’t any training on reading a person’s mind last time I checked. Yet somehow these people seem to assume the bank will automatically find out. It’s your money people! You don’t want some random person who moved into your apt after you left to get your bank statements and the like. Doesn’t make sense…

    Also, many clients have safe deposit boxes (and usually there’s an annual cost). If there hasn’t been a payment made (past due), the bank drills the box and the state gets the contents (I believe).

    Easy steps:

    1. Update your contact/personal information ASAP whenever anything changes (even employers). If we need to contact you because there’s fraud and you’ve given a fake number to deter marketing, don’t blame the bank for not contacting you when you left your checkbook at CVS and a thief got a hold of it.

    2. Make a withdrawal every few months from accounts you don’t use often, so they don’t become dormant and escheated to the state.

    3. Pay your safe deposit box due, or close it out if it’s becoming a hassle/unaffordable, otherwise it will get drilled.

  15. Subliminal0182 says:

    @evslin: A negative non credit account (checking, savings, etc) doesn’t get sent to collections. The bank charges it off and you get a record on ChexSystems, and when you try to open an account anywhere else in the country, the opening account rep calls ChexSystems and will find out about the debt and wont open the account.

  16. Bryan Price says:

    When I worked at the Ohio Department of Commerce, we had the Division of Unclaimed Funds. When I started, you could claim whatever was in your lockbox, they paid you interest, they had already had to deal with the 1.9K year bug, because they had a lot of stuff that went back to the 1800’s. And in the first month, no matter where you worked, you went through to see if you, your family and your friends could claim any money (I had $120 from an insurance check)And the state didn’t really do anything with it, that money just sat in investments.

    Then the new (republican) administrations came in, and you lost your interest, first it was a cut off day, and then one day, if you hadn’t claimed it you lost even the previous interest. Instead of keeping the jewelry, the stock certificates and what not from the lockboxes, they just sold it, and what they got was what you could then claim.

    I remember when the feds started requiring us to obtain social security numbers because there may be taxes involved (I couldn’t see how, and nobody could explain it to my satisfaction, not that I worked in that division anyway) which just caused all sorts of problems.

    @lukobe: Yes, they are (were? it’s been awhile), but that requirement frequently got overlooked, especially when the Unclaimed Funds were going through and auditing a company

  17. Joe S Chmo says:

    Just keep your address info up to date with the bank, it is much easier than dealing with the state. Once the bank contacts you about a dormant account you can let them know if you want the funds or just re activate the account.

    Also, negative checking accounts DO get sent to collections. It depends on the amount but there are several companies making collections for large and small banks. Listing with Chexsystems sometimes gets the former customer into the old bank to settle up so they can open their new account elsewhere.

  18. GearheadGeek says:

    @Subliminal0182: An interesting thought about safe deposit boxes… mine is free (a perk of the size of my indebtedness… the bank where the box is happens to hold my mortgage.) So, as long as my mortgage balance plus my checking balance add up to $15k or more, the safe deposit box is “free.” I wonder if I have to access it at least once a year to keep it from being considered dormant? So far I’ve averaged about 3x/year, so it’s just never come up.

  19. laserjobs says:

    FYI: Never keep anything of value in a safe deposit box, it could easily get seized by the IRS or US Government.

  20. @badhatharry:
    I appreciated it, nonetheless.

  21. mgy says:

    I sure wish I had accounts full of money sitting around doing nothing :/

  22. KSPRAYDAD says:

    For Canadians…your dormant account gets sent to the Bank of Canada after 7 years.

    You can ‘find’ your money on their site here:


    At the end of December 2007, approximately 938,000 unclaimed balances, worth some $320 million, were on the Bank’s books. Over 86% of these were under $500, representing 19% of the total value outstanding. The oldest balance dates back to 1900.

  23. KSPRAYDAD says:

    Sorry…10 years.

  24. Hawk07 says:

    Oh wow.

    I finally just moved some money out of an old Wells Fargo account into my primary savings account (less than $30) after forgetting about it for 3 years. The last time I remember using the account was the summer of 2005.

  25. @mgy: It’s not usually big accounts. Its little ones. A friend of mine had emptied an account in NJ when she moved to Maryland, but never “closed” it. A year later her former employer paid out two old expense checks Direct deposit into the account. It wasn’t till she got married 4 years later and was tracking down all her credit stuff when she realized that she had that money.

    Im guessing most people are the same way. Accounts you had tiny balances in, accounts your parents set up for you when you are young, accounts in conjunction with loans..

  26. duffbeer703 says:

    I don’t get how Consumerist is spinning this as an awful thing. The state is protecting your interests, since any financial institution would end up chewing up your money with dormancy fees or similar nonsense.

    Characterizing this as some sort of scheme to scam people into giving interest-free loans to the state is more then a little disingenuous. Sounds like PR from some lobby group that wants the banks to hold onto this stuff to me.

  27. Byzantine says:

    @duffbeer703: I don’t see how making us fill out hours of pointless paperwork to hopefully get our money back from the good ol’ government is “protecting us,” but perhaps I have a different view of government than you do.

  28. floraposte says:

    Thanks for the reminder–I finally put together the paperwork to get my unclaimed money back (all of $30, but hey, better I have it than they do). In my case, it was actually a mandated refund from a utility, and I’m guessing the payment wasn’t forwardable (it’s from two addresses ago). So it’s not just forgotten bank accounts that’ll end up with the state.

    While I was in my state’s database, I found unclaimed money for my father, two friends, and the father and brother of the second friend. Wonder if I can negotiate a finder’s fee?

  29. Quilt says:

    Do the banks make any effort to contact people before turning over their stuff to the government?

  30. Meathamper says:

    This is so wrong…money you make should not go to the state. Period.

  31. jonworld says:

    @badhatharry: Yeah dude, same thing happened to me. But my identity also got stolen in the process. (:

  32. Byzantine says:

    @michaelleung: I guess you aren’t a big fan of the income tax either then? :P

  33. baquwards says:

    I had an employer send a last pay check to the state (the employer never tried to send it to me). All I had to do was fill in a form online, print it out and get a notary to witness my signature and include a copy of my DL, the whole process was simple, and I got a check in 6 weeks, this was in NC.

  34. Cliff_Donner says:

    Here’s another link:


    I don’t know that it’s any better or worse than the “missing money” link cited by the OP, but it does appear to be the official US government site for such matters.

    Click the links to dig deeper.

  35. Naval Patel says:

    How about automatic transfers? If I set up a $1 transfer from checking to savings and savings to checking, does that take care of the transaction requirement?

  36. Subliminal0182 says:

    @N. Patel: Yes.

  37. badhatharry says:

    @thisisasignin: Thanks.

    @jonworld: I think I may have gotten it. Sorry about that. Want it back?

  38. RandomHookup says:

    I love looking through the newspaper insert that comes out a couple of times a year. You’ll find all these big companies that someone can’t find like ibmCorp or Microsoft or Harvard University. The problem with any of the lookup databases is that they don’t take into account misspellings or transposed names and the like. I check every now and then using variations on my middle name and the most common misspelling of my last name. I found a small account in Oklahoma for either my late Dad or my Granddad (very uncommon combination of first and last name), but it’s probably not worth time tracking down.

  39. RandomHookup says:

    @michaelleung: Would you rather it sit in the accounts of some big corporation or bank that makes no effort to get it to you (and no incentive)?

  40. Flexo says:

    Banks don’t escheat the accounts to the states just if they’re inactive. The institutions are required to try to contact the owners.

    The company I work for isn’t a bank but they deal with insurance, investments, annuities, etc. When they’ve sent out a check that has never been cashed, the company has a rigorous process to try to find the rightful owner, more than just looking at forwarding addresses from the post office. This way, the rightful owner of the funds has a chance to receive the money before it is escheated to the state.

    If you leave forwarding addresses when you move and keep your accounts up to date with your latest personal information, particularly for the money in any account you know and care about, you’ll never have to deal with reclaiming funds from banks — unless you have accounts you don’t know about.

    If you’re a beneficiary of an insurance policy, you may not know that money is due to you… so it never hurts to check the states’ unclaimed funds websites and

  41. FrankenPC says:

    Wait a minute…

    Wait one darn stinking minute!

    You mean I can’t put a penny in a savings account, go into suspended animation and wake up 500 years in the future as a millionaire???!?!!?


  42. BrianDaBrain says:

    Nore to self, use bank accounts.

    On a more important note, I love the picture!!! It reminds me of my cat! :)

  43. Orv says:

    @Subliminal0182: If only withdrawls count, how does this work for IRAs, where you can’t legally make withdrawls?