Since David is a Consumerist reader, he’s probably known in his family as a generally savvy person to check with regarding all things financial. Or he’s just smart. Either way, a relative asked him about a letter offering help claiming an apparently abandoned insurance settlement. Was it a scam? Well, no. Not exactly.
If someone owes you money and you’ve moved or they can’t find you for another reason, that money gets turned over to the state where you were living at the time. The state may try to track you down, or it may not. The earliest unclaimed asset laws were passed in the 1930s: without them, companies would just keep the money from checks you forgot to cash or bank accounts that you abandoned.
David’s relative received a letter from a company that locates and reaches out to people who have unclaimed property. Most such companies aren’t scams, but you don’t need them, either. The best place to start looking for any unclaimed funds that might be out there for you is MissingMoney.com
In David’s case, he was able to find the account quickly and easily in a public database, without paying anyone a finder’s fee.
A relative contacted me for my opinion on a letter they got last week offering to secure an unclaimed amount of money from the state. I read through the letter and concluded that it was for real, for this relative’s spouse had passed away and things can go unnoticed in dealing with the loss and sudden responsibility of being in charge of things unfamiliar to them. [The company] was upfront with stating the cost of the service was 10%.
Thinking that if this investigator had easy access to the relative’s information, I thought that I might have the same access to it. An internet search for California Unclaimed Property pointed to the state’s website and using only the name and city I found the relative’s entry in the system AND the name of the insurance company that had the money, with a contact name and 800 phone number.
My relative called the number and has made arrangements to have this insurance claim paid to her with no 10% fees.