BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) – We set out on my own unclaimed property prize patrol knocking on doors and ringing door bells to let people know that their names were on a list of people owed money by the state.
Most people didn’t answer, so when Eve Beasley came out of the house next door we looked up her name.
“That house has been vacant for almost three years,” Beasley said.
But then out came Ken Clark, whose family owns the house.
We told them what we were up to: going to people’s houses to let them know the state has money that belongs to them.
Clark’s daughter’s name was on the list. Their home is on the market. Despite there being a lot of Kenneth Clarks on the list, he wasn’t owed any money.
And neither was Eve.
However, we ran Konie Bryant’s name, and that one showed there was money to be claimed. We found that Konie, along with Jarrod, were both owed more than $100 from AmSouth Bank.
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We reached out and contacted Jarrod, a former Hoover High School football standout who played quarterback for Navy. He’s now serving in the armed forces.
Banks, utility corporations like gas, electric, and telephone and insurance companies are among the companies that by law have to turn over money to the state.
Our quest took us inside the state’s vault where values in the millions are just waiting on people like Jarrod to claim.
His money had been sent to the treasurer by AmSouth, which is now Regions Bank.
Banks turn over a lot of your property to the state, where it is managed by state treasurer Young Boozer’s office.
How much money is it that people don’t know they have? Boozer says it’s kind of an amazing number. If you look at the total amount of unclaimed property, it’s $595 million.
It represents 5.5 million different claims.
Some claims are as tiny as a nickel, but others are in the thousands or hundreds of thousands of dollars.
It doesn’t pay interest to people named on the list, but it does earn interest for the state.
“There is no interest money that comes in. It comes from the state treasury pool and the treasury pool interest goes into the general fund,” Boozer said.
Chances are if you paid a deposit that you forgot about or moved even one time, the state has money that belongs to you and they’re trying to find you.
That’s what happened to me and is why they sent me a card in the mail. It asks for a copy of your driver’s license social security card and proof of your address.
When people get the card, the first thing many think is that it might be a scam. We asked Boozer if he’s concerned that people are afraid that they might be having their identity stolen, so they are afraid do the other steps on the card.
“That’s always a concern for us,” he said. “We understand that a lot of people feel that way. That’s why we put our phone numbers on the bottom, and that’s why we have modified this card as best we can to try to let people know that it’s not.”
The card lists the website. If you go to it and your name is there you can begin a claim by filling out a form.
“They have to provide information about themselves. We have to be sure that person who is making the claim is the right person,” Boozer said.
Ralph Amerson is in charge of the unclaimed property division in the state treasurer’s office. Natalie Rudolph is on the staff of about 15 people who keep track of the property.
“We make sure we log each one of the items we receive from banks,” said Rudolph. “Often we find items in the boxes that they don’t have listed on their registry.”
When it comes to these items, there is one way you can get your hands on it, even if you are not the rightful owner.
The website also has a link to an ongoing auction that lets you bid on items that were never claimed.
If it belongs to you’ll get the proceeds from the auction in the form of a cash claim.
And that brings us back to Ken and Jarrod. We surprised them over the phone.
Fees are deducted for items sold at auction, but there is no fee involved in you getting your cash back. It’s like free money.
“Thanks for letting me know,” said Jarrod. “I always like free money, I guess it’s not free it’s just unclaimed, it’s your money in the first place.”
And until you claim it, the state is keeping safely locked away.
Copyright 2015 WIAT 42 News