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Unclaimed, Unfound, Uncovered

May 1, 2014, 10:18 PM by Brady Mallory

Unclaimed, Unfound, Uncovered

Many of us know how good it feels to find a random $20-bill in a pocket or under a couch cushion. You do not need to go digging into your closet or up-ending your furniture to find long-lost money. The state of South Dakota's unclaimed property fund is now at more than $40 million. The state treasurer's office has paid out $8.5 million during the last year. Finding out whether you have a check coming to you is just a few clicks away.

KELOLAND News wanted to help re-unite others with their unclaimed money. After a few searches, we found Valentino's, a Sioux Falls restaurant, is on the list. We paid owner John Jones a visit.

Brady: I typed in restaurants, and Valentino's came up. The amount you have that is unclaimed is $229.77. What do you think about that?
Jones: Well, that sounds really great.  I've heard advertisements about that before, but I've never really checked into it.  Probably something worth checking into.

It turns out, a company Jones used to do business with owed him this sum of money, though the website does not list the exact reason. The money listed as unclaimed on the site has been piling up for more than 30 years. You will find other websites and apps that promise to help reunite you with your missing funds. Most of them will take you right back to the state treasurer's website.  State Treasurer Richard Sattgast has some tips on avoiding websites they may try to scam you.

We also approached random people at the mall, and searched their names. We met Linda Pankratz.

Brady: Linda! Your name comes up, and you have $120.36 in unclaimed money!

After you find your name on the list, you click on "claim selected properties".  You will fill out some information, including your driver's license number and social security number.  You will also have to fill out some paper work.  Sattgast said, on average, it takes less than a month to get your money back.

"That's great, because I've been spending too much money lately.  That's wonderful," Pankratz said.

Tammy Swanson was our next search.

Brady: You have, are you ready for this total, if this is you, $12 in unclaimed money.

Swanson laughed, and said she had an idea she was on the list, and would have been surprised if her amount was much more than what is listed.

Brady: I mean, $12, you could go to a movie.
Swanson: Well, maybe.

The money comes from many sources: Old accounts, checks that didn't get delivered, stock dividends and even abandoned safety deposit boxes.  According to the state treasurer, the average per person total of unclaimed funds is $75. Not everyone has a big chunk of change waiting for them. Jones knows his unclaimed cash won't make him rich. However, he admits, these days, every little bit helps.

"It's too good to be true.  It's kind of like you found out you had a rich uncle who passed away and left you a million dollars," Jones said.

For some, knowing how to claim your unclaimed money is still a well-kept secret.  But like Jones, it could pay to do a little digging for this gold.

"Complete surprise! I've never looked at it. I guess I'm going to look at it now," Jones said.

To see if you have unclaimed property, go the the State Treasurer's website.

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