Claim Your Lost Property
The California Controller’s Office is holding more than 70 million unclaimed properties worth nearly $12 billion, waiting for their rightful owners to claim them. Could you be one of them? Thousands, if not millions, of people have money or valuables in state custody they may not realize is theirs. While the state tries to find people, it is not always successful.
Luckily, you can search the database yourself. Visit ClaimIt.ca.gov to enter your information and to see what steps you need to take for submitting a claim, if you find something under your name. The assets could be from forgotten bank, stock and bond accounts, wages owed, insurance benefits or contents of an abandoned safe deposit box. As recently as September, 22,000 people were reconnected with their valuables, totaling $41 million.
It’s understandable how we can lose track of things. We move around and change addresses, or we just forget. That’s why California’s Unclaimed Property Program was created in 1959. It protects consumers by preventing businesses from keeping property that belongs to customers they’re no longer in contact with. State law mandates they hand the items over to the Controller’s Office until the owners are found. In the 2021-22 fiscal year alone, more than a billion dollars had been turned in.
But, it’s not an easy process to reclaim property because of the amount of paperwork needed, and in some cases, a notary is required. In fact, the Legislative Analyst Office found many owners give up on filing a claim midway through because the steps are overly burdensome and time consuming. The report also noted that much of the documentation was unnecessary.
The good news is my bill – AB-1208, starting on Jan. 1, 2023 – will make it easier for Californians to be reunited with their long-lost money or valuables. There’s no reason for the system to be complicated, especially since 75% of the claims are under $1,000 and belong to just one owner. I thank the governor for signing the proposal.
My legislation directs the State Controller’s Office to streamline the claims process by:
• Requiring less extensive documentation for claims under $5,000.
• Allowing for electronic submission of documentation for all claims.
• Permitting direct deposit for monetary claims.
Nearly one in three visitors to the ClaimIt.ca.gov website finds property, and the average payout last year was $433. With global inflation squeezing our wallets these days, it may be worth a few minutes of your time to check to learn if the state is safeguarding something for you. You can also call the Controller’s Office at 1-800-992-4647, Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., except on holidays.
Phil Ting represents the 19th Assembly District, which includes the west side of San Francisco along with the communities of Broadmoor, Colma, and Daly City as well as part of South San Francisco
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