A Tallmadge woman called to say a friend told her she might have some unclaimed funds but she didn’t know what that meant.
The friend had seen the woman’s name in our newspaper.
The listing of new accounts turned over to the Ohio Department of Commerce’s Division of Unclaimed Funds appeared in the Beacon Journal in May. The woman said her friend works in a nursing home and perhaps was reading an old paper.
I explained it was likely that she or someone in her family had unclaimed funds, which could be dormant checking and savings accounts, forgotten rent and utility deposits, uncashed checks, undelivered stock certificates and uncashed insurance policies.
Searches can be done online at www.unclaimedfundstreasurehunt.ohio.gov for Ohio. Other states can be searched by using the drop-down menu in the “state” field and choosing “search all states and provinces.”
If you don’t have Internet access, you can call 877-644-6823 for Ohio records.
It turns out the woman had $555 in her deceased husband’s name. She was very grateful.
“The first thing I’m thinking about is my son. My son should get the money, not me,” she said. “I’m ecstatic. He’s in dire need of some money.”
Her husband died more than 11 years ago.
The money was from Dominion East Ohio and the woman said she still lives at the house she and her husband had.
I contacted Dominion to ask why there would be unclaimed funds for someone at the same address. Wouldn’t it be easy enough to reunite the money with the person, I asked?
Spokesman Neil Durbin said the account in the deceased husband’s name was closed in 2008 and new service was established at the address in the son’s name.
Letters were sent to the address to try to notify the man, or his estate about the money. The last letter was sent out in August 2011. Durbin said if the family had responded by the deadline, the utility would have been able to provide the refund in their name, provided they had the proper estate papers to prove they were heirs to the accounts.
Since there was no response, the utility had to consider the funds “unclaimed” and send the money to the state, Durbin said. The woman, who asked that I not name her for privacy concerns, said she and her son don’t recall getting any notices at the house, but acknowledged that they may have missed them.
Durbin said in the case of widows or widowers, the best thing to do is have the account put in their names. This will help for security purposes to be able to transact business on the account, in any form for refunds or changing suppliers or other matters.
Payments of unclaimed funds are on the rise.
During the first 11 months of fiscal year 2012, the Division of Unclaimed Funds paid 55,338 claims — a 29 percent increase over the same period last year.
The division has also paid nearly $55.5 million so far this fiscal year — more than $2.8 million over the same time last year.
This gets a little confusing, but some unclaimed funds held by the state will receive interest. It depends on when the state first received your unclaimed funds and in some cases, when you were paid.
• For unclaimed funds sent to the state from 1968, when the fund was established, through July 26, 1991: Interest of 6 percent is paid on these funds.
• For funds from July 27, 1991, to Aug. 2, 2000: No interest is paid on these accounts. Legislation was written that did not include interest payments, department spokesman Dennis Ginty said.
• For those who claimed funds from Aug. 3, 2000: There is a pending proposed settlement from a class-action suit against the state to pay interest on these funds.
If the settlement is approved by the court this fall, claimants recovering funds from Aug. 3, 2000, until the case is closed and who are eligible for $5 or more in interest will receive a payment from a settlement administrator based on formulas.
Also, if the settlement is approved, any future claimants will also be paid interest on a formula based on the amount that the state earns on its low-risk investments.
Claimants from Aug. 3, 2000, until the case is closed are automatically included in this class-action settlement, called “Sogg.”
You should be contacted by a third-party administrator. You can also get more information on the settlement administrator’s website at www.strategicclaims.net/sogg. The class-action suit was filed in 2004 and the court decided to include members from Aug. 3, 2000, as part of the group.
To claim funds, proof can be as simple as a name and documented address and/or the account, or in the case of a deceased relative, documentation that you are an estate trustee.