Our phones have been ringing off the hook since we published the names of people with Unclaimed Property in newspapers across the state. The sound of those phones ringing is almost as sweet as the sound of a church choir singing “Silent Night” because it means we’re returning money to Louisianians.
That’s right. Unclaimed Property is money; it’s not a plot of land. How nice would it be to have a little extra cash for your Christmas shopping?
We returned more than $35 million last year, shattering records and making a tiny dent in the amount of money stacked up in the state treasury. We’re still holding more than $635 million in Unclaimed Property for residents and businesses.
As State Treasurer, I try to publicize the program as best I can. I set up booths at malls. I run people’s names in newspapers. Still, people are surprised to find they have money in the state treasury.
So what is Unclaimed Property? It’s lost money, such as payroll checks, bank accounts, royalties, utility deposits, interest payments, stock certificates and life insurance proceeds. If a business can’t find you, they send the money to us. We hold it until we locate you.
Your grandmother may have purchased a small savings bond for you and forgotten about it. Your uncle may have written your name down as the beneficiary on a life insurance policy and never told you. Your car insurance company may have tried to send you a refund when you cancelled your policy but couldn’t find you because you moved from Bossier City to Breaux Bridge. Your employer may have given you stock options that you neglected to cash out when you switched jobs.
I’ve returned money to celebrities and political figures. Most recently, I mailed a check to singer Aaron Neville.
It’s not just the rich and famous who have money in the state treasury. Cash belonging to every day citizens is contributing to that more than $635 million balance.
The other day, we phoned a woman in north Louisiana. Her husband took out a life insurance policy before he died and neglected to tell her about it. We’ll be mailing her a $60,000 check.
A family estrangement caused two siblings to lose touch. When one died, the other had no way of knowing about a nearly $200,000 insurance policy. We were able to find the beneficiaries.
In Monroe, a mother must have forgotten about her life insurance policy because she told her offspring that she didn’t have one. Imagine the surprise when we uncovered one worth thousands of dollars.
Now, unfortunately, we cannot call everyone whose name is in our database. We just don’t have the manpower. Tracking people down often requires a little detective work because people move or they have common surnames.
Please log onto www.LATreasury.com and search our database. You also can call us at (888) 925-4127.
It is completely free to search for and claim Unclaimed Property. There are absolutely no strings. This is a public service.
In the meantime, allow me to wish you a Merry Christmas and much happiness in the new year.