Working on the consumer beat, I often get to share helpful hints with our audience, but this week was a blast because I got to share cold hard cash with you instead!
I am referring to my story on new ways to find unclaimed money that's out there waiting for you. Things like forgotten apartment security deposits, uncashed overtime checks, insurance company refunds and so on.
The 50 states are required to safeguard this money for their citizens. We set up a card table and a laptop in Times Square and dubbed it our rinky-dink "Good Morning America Unclaimed Money Headquarters." But when we started searching for money for people there was nothing rinky-dink about our results. Honestly, when I took on the assignment, I was dreading the possibility that we wouldn't find anything. To my amazement, we found money for seven out of the 28 people we checked for.
And the wealth keeps spreading! As a companion piece to my "GMA" story on television, I wrote an online article listing all the different places you can check for unclaimed cash. In addition to a free website set up by the 50 states and the District of Columbia, there are several Federal agencies that safeguard unclaimed property.
Jason of New York tried it and got in touch with me to say that it worked! He found missing money for himself and four other family members. Jason himself has money waiting in New York state from Comcast Corporation. He used to own Comcast stock and suspects a dividend check was sent to an old address and never made it to him.
"It was definitely something that I didn't know anything about," Jason said. "And it didn't take very long. And hey, it's your money, so why not?"
Jason said he was hooked and went on to find money waiting in his grandmother's name as well. Chances are the amount is substantial, because the New York State website stated she would be required to submit a notarized affidavit and proof of identity to claim her cash.
Next, Jason enthused to his girlfriend about how easy and fun it is to check for unclaimed money, so she started searching too. Almost immediately, she found accounts listed as belonging to her parents in Connecticut and also New Jersey. Her dad is hoping the mystery money is from insurance claims he submitted after surgery years ago and never heard back on.
And then everything came full circle. Jason's girlfriend found money for Jason's sister, Jen. Are you following this family tree? In this case, the money was in Texas -- where Jen has never lived. To make a long story short, Jen worked at a North Carolina restaurant in college that is headquartered in Texas. Texas is one of the few states that tells you online the actual amount you are owed.
It was $55 in this case, so not big bucks, but still money she didn't know about. Shared tips? Overtime? Who knows? But now Jen can take it to some OTHER restaurant in her new city and state and enjoy a nice meal she never expected.