RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – At a time when the pandemic is creating tough economic times, there is a way to get free money and it is legitimate. There may be unclaimed money be owed to you.
The North Carolina state treasurer’s office said last year, the average North Carolinian received $563 in unclaimed money.
For the year fiscal year ending in June, Treasurer Dale Folwell said record numbers of unclaimed money payments were made.
He said 125,000 claims were honored totaling over $70 million in payouts.
The state treasure’s office oversees unclaimed property and although it can take many forms, a lot of it involves cash.
The treasurer’s office has always been the one that held and distributed unclaimed money.
In the pre-pandemic days, one way it created awareness about that service was to set up a booth at the state fair to remind people they can go online to check if they are owed cash.
Last October, the treasurer’s office took a new tact, initiating a pilot program called NCcash Match where it searched computer records for people owed $250 dollars or less.
Under that program, people got a letter in the U.S. mail from the treasurer’s office letting them know a check was coming to them.
“The pilot program was meant to cut down on bureaucracy and get people their money faster,” said Folwell.
That pilot program was so successful lawmakers decided to make it permanent, creating a law that allowed the treasurer’s office to automatically send checks up to $5,000 to people after searching computer records for unclaimed money.
“We’re taking 3,000 files per week, and sending out letters to individuals,” said Folwell. “If that letter isn’t returned to us in 8 weeks, we automatically cut a check without any bureaucracy or anything.”
That NCcash Match system is meant to supplement online searches by people because the treasurer’s office literally has a treasure-trove of property it’s holding.
“If a lockbox is abandoned in North Carolina, the bank sends those contents to us,” said Folwell.
He said most of the time it is stock and bonds in those lockboxes, but his office has received everything from baby teeth to military medals that people had stored and had forgotten about.
Funds can become unclaimed for a variety of reasons including, not collecting a final paycheck, rent or utility deposit owed to you or property you put in a bank vault and just lost track of.
Although the treasurer’s office returned more than $70 million worth of cash and property to rightful owners last fiscal year, Folwell expects that figure to double next year.