Reporting Jim Donovan
By Jim Donovan
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Not everyone can be as lucky as the SEPTA lottery winners, but you could be entitled to a windfall and not even know it! According to Pennsylvania Treasurer Rob McCord, “We have accumulated $1.8 billion dollars that has never been returned.”
As of April 15th, a new wave of unclaimed property has arrived in Harrisburg that is just waiting to be claimed. Treasurer McCord says, “You should check for unclaimed property both in your state and nationally annually, because property is collected every single year.”
Some of that unclaimed money was owed to Hillory Henry of Philadelphia. She says, “I was just searching online and just decided, ‘Let me see what the state has for me.’”
A search of Pennsylvania’s unclaimed property website resulted in Hillory getting $7,105 that the state had been holding for years. Hillory says, “I could not believe that much money was out there.” She’s now using the found money to pay off bills.
And Hillory isn’t the only one. Just last year, over 12,000 people claimed money after 3 On Your Side urged CBS 3 viewers to check the unclaimed property lists, too. Within days of our report, a whopping $5,784,995 was claimed from the Pennsylvania treasury alone!
It was around four years ago that an uncle informed Maryanne and Gus Geria that they were owed money after he spotted something in a newspaper.
“He said, ‘Gus, check the papers, he said your name is in there, there is unclaimed money for you,’” remembers Gus, who only recently filed a claim. “There were 3 unclaimed items, items which when we, at the beginning, thought there was only 1.”
The Gerias were surprised to learn they were owed $6,996 related to two beauty schools they once operated. It’s found money now being put to good use. Maryanne says, “We put it into the account for our grandchildren’s college.”
And it doesn’t end there! Treasurer McCord says, “You may have a loved one or an organization–your church, synagogue, or school that has unclaimed property. A lot of people fail to look under the name of organizations that they care about.”
And it’s not just pennies from heaven. Inside the Treasury Department’s Harrisburg vault, they’re holding much more, from stocks and bonds to glittering jewels. One diamond ring alone is valued at over $60,000! These are just some of the contents from dormant safety deposit boxes handed over to the state.
Lindsay Caldonetti, the Pennsylvania Treasury vault manager says, “A lot of times if you pass away and you don’t let your heirs know that your safe deposit box is in a certain bank then they are never going to know.” When items aren’t claimed, they’re eventually auctioned off. According to Caldonetti “We normally do eBay auctions, and we upload items for sale every day.”
So take the advice Maryanne and Gus now offer: They say check the list! And Hillory suggests that you check it often.
One bit of advice? Often, there can be spelling errors, and that’s why the state can’t find you. So in addition to searching under your first and last name, try using just your first initial with your last name as well–doing that will help you cast a wider net. Also, if your first name can also be a last name, like John James or Kelly Hope, flip the names in the search fields. Sometimes when a state gets the information about the property, the first and last names are reversed.
You can click below to see if you’re owed unclaimed property in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware as well as many other states: