Cash

The Minnesota Department of Commerce wants to return millions of dollars of unclaimed property to owners. Does some of it belong to you?

Has this ever happened to you:

It’s mid-October, the temperature has finally dipped low enough that you dig out the winter coat you haven’t worn in six months. As you put it on, you feel something in the pocket. You stick your hand in and pull out a wadded-up $10 bill you had forgotten all about. Score!

It doesn’t matter how much it is — $5, $10, $20 or more — everyone likes finding money. It’s like a gift from your past self to your present self.

If you like finding money, we’ve got good news for you. There’s a chance you have money you forgot or never knew was owed to you, and the Minnesota Department of Commerce’s Unclaimed Property Division is ready to cut you a check.

“Unclaimed or ‘abandoned’ property refers to financial assets held by businesses in which there has been no activity or contact generated by the property owner for a statutorily defined period of time,” according to the Department of Commerce’s website.

Some examples of unclaimed property include dormant bank accounts, checks that weren’t cashed, insurance claim payments and safe deposit boxes. Businesses holding these types of property are required to attempt to find the owner, but if they can’t then the property is turned over to the state to safeguard and continue searching for the owner. Minnesota and most other states do this digitally. You can visit Minnesota’s unclaimed property website at minnesota.findyourunclaimedproperty.com.

It’s easy to do. Once you’ve gone to the website, you simply type your name into the search box, which checks the state’s database of unclaimed property. If you’ve got unclaimed property, you take a few minutes to fill out the online claim form, and if the state confirms the property belongs to you, it sends you a check for the amount owed.

It’s that simple, and it works. We know because earlier this month, one of the writers of this editorial received a check from the state in about a week for $60 from an abandoned bank account. Score!

And the number of people who have unclaimed property owed them is surprisingly high. According to the Department of Commerce, the state has returned more than $580 million to property owners.

To give you an idea of how many people may have unclaimed property, we did a search for people named “Johnson” living in Litchfield, and the results were about 30 claims.

It’s not just individuals who may have unclaimed property, either. It’s businesses and other organizations as well. We conducted another search for organizations in Litchfield with “Litchfield” in their name and got about a dozen results back, including unclaimed property for Litchfield Middle School, Litchfield Public Utilities, and Litchfield Public Library.

And if you’ve lived in other places besides Minnesota, don’t forget to check those states as well. It’s easy to find each state’s website. Just do a search with the name of the state you lived in and “unclaimed property,” and you shouldn’t have any problems finding the website for each state’s unclaimed property division.

So let’s help Minnesota with some spring cleaning this year, and maybe collect a little extra stimulus while we’re at it. Go check if you have unclaimed property owed to you. While you’re at it, check for your friends and family as well and be the bearer of good news for once. Because everyone likes finding money.