Residents & Businesses in Oklahoma Have Nearly $300 Million in Unclaimed Property
Since 2005, more than $65 million has been paid out to Oklahomans from the state’s Treasury Department. This money includes unclaimed assets that have been forgotten or abandoned for a variety of reasons. Whenever a business or bank loses track of customers, and have had no contact with them for a number of years, the accounts are turned over to the state and labeled “unclaimed”.
This happens all the time. The state’s Unclaimed Property Division still owes money to 500,000 Oklahomans. The state has a population of around 3.6 million, which means about one in seven Oklahomans has unclaimed assets. Each year, this amount grows. The unclaimed assets include a variety of intangible assets, including lost money, checks, stocks, bonds, unpaid wages, refunds, gift certificates, interests, income, etc.
The only tangible property that is part of this category is safety deposit boxes. The intangible property can be either personal or business-related. Sometimes stockholders have unclaimed money from business associations. Just recently, a gentleman in Oklahoma received $30,000 from a stock investment he had forgotten about.
A new “Fast Track” program has been established to reduce the amount of time it takes to process claims and to return the unclaimed properties to their rightful owners. People are now receiving their money rather quickly thanks to the improvements made to the state’s Unclaimed Property Division.
Every year, employees from the State Treasury Department attend state fairs and set up booths to advertise the unclaimed property program. People are free to visit the booths to see if their name is on the list. There are also live, phone-in programs broadcasted on Tulsa and Oklahoma TV stations. Most of the unclaimed money belongs to individuals and businesses in these two cities.
State Treasurer Meacham has also made it easier for businesses and banks in the state to report unclaimed funds. Brochures are printed out and sent to businesses throughout the state outlining the requirements for reporting dormant accounts. A new internet system is being developed which will allow businesses to report information online.
People lose track of their assets for a variety of reasons. Sometimes they move and forget to forward their new address to every company with whom they do business. Sometimes they simply get busy with everyday living and forget about their financial accounts. Sometimes people die without a will, leaving their assets behind until a relative tries to claim it.
Oklahomans and residents of other states who work for companies in OK can check and see if they have any money owed to them. There are online searches available, and they can also call the state’s Treasury Dept.