Did you know that the City of Sacramento is currently holding nearly $2 million in unclaimed property? These unclaimed funds consist of uncashed vendor checks that had not been cashed in three or more years, as well as utility billing account balances that were not requested to be refunded when a customer closed their account. Maybe you or someone you know could be owed a share of this money. But, under California Government Code Section 50050-50056, the city will get to keep this unclaimed money if the rightful owners do not make their claim soon.
In an article titled “Sacramento imposes deadline on unclaimed property” by KCRA’s Mike Luery on May 30, 2012, the city has set a deadline of June 25th for individuals and organizations to file a claim. According to Amy Williams, a media manager with the City of Sacramento, any money not claimed by this deadline will go into the city’s budget for services like parks, fire, and police. Several people, such as the Sacramento SPCA, the Sacramento Renaissance Tower, and the Sacramento Sheriff’s Department were unaware that they have money owned to them and were quite surprised to find out they were on the list. While the City of Sacramento imposes a deadline to file a claim, the State of California and the Sacramento Municipal Utility District do not. The California Taxpayers Association took issue with Sacramento’s deadline. In an email to KCRA, CalTax Vice President David Kline said, “The city should follow the state’s lead and hold unclaimed property until its rightful owners claim it, rather than setting an arbitrary deadline and then keeping the money and property for itself. The fact that the Sacramento Kings, The Sacramento Bee and Regional Transit are all on the list raises concerns about how much effort the city is putting into finding the rightful owners.”
The city has not contacted the 15,000 plus individuals that are on the list, but instead have publicized the list through legal notices, social networking, email alerts, as well as their website. The city has received 45 claims so far, but no one has been paid yet, until the claims are validated. According to the City of Sacramento’s Finance Department, the owner of record of the unclaimed property, or any other person who has a legal right to or ownership interest in the property may file a claim for the property. The claim form must be signed by the owner of the unclaimed property. The claimant must show proof of identity, such as a current driver’s license, and proof of ownership of the property, such as a will, court order, or other appropriate legal document. A claim form and instructions, as well as the list of names can be found on the City of Sacramento’s Finance Department website.
In addition to the City of Sacramento, there are billions of dollars of unclaimed property being held by government agencies throughout the country. State laws require businesses, financial institutions, public utilities, and insurance companies to report abandoned or unclaimed property after an account has been inactive for a certain period of time. Unclaimed property comes in many forms such as bank accounts, safe deposit box contents, security deposits, tax refunds, unclaimed wages, pensions, life insurance policies, stock dividends and gift certificates. Maybe there are some forgotten funds just waiting for you to claim them. If you stop by the Free Public Records Directory, Unclaimed and Abandoned Property page you can easily search for unclaimed property records by state, county, and city. You will also find links to national databases there as well, such as the U.S. Treasury Department for unclaimed funds, including savings bonds no longer earning interest, the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators’ database for unclaimed property, and FDIC’s unclaimed funds database. Be sure to check every state where you or your relatives have ever lived or done business, as well as every name you’ve ever lived under. Happy hunting!