Posted by Paige Stewart - email
Many Texans had more money in their pockets after Texas Comptroller Susan Combs returned a record $147 million in unclaimed property to its owners in fiscal 2009, a 19 percent increase compared to fiscal 2008.
Combs has expanded her agency's efforts to locate unclaimed property owners, producing an 18 percent increase in the number of claims filed in fiscal 2009, compared to the previous year. Nearly 49,000 owners reclaimed $100 - $500; about 15,000 owners reclaimed $500 - $1,000; and 17,385 claimed more than $1,000.
During the Texas State Fair, open through Oct. 18 in Dallas, hundreds more unclaimed property owners will discover forgotten funds by searching the unclaimed property list at the Comptroller's annual exhibit in the Grand Place Building, near the giant figure of Big Tex.
"The current balance in the state's unclaimed property fund is $2 billion, and that is far too much unclaimed money," Combs said. "That money belongs to Texans, and I know reclaiming it would make a difference to many people in these tough times. We're making every effort to let folks know about their unclaimed property and help them claim it."
Those efforts include searching the unclaimed property list at conventions, festivals, sporting events and other venues that attract large crowds - in addition to the longstanding exhibit at the State Fair. The Comptroller has added temporary staff to process simple claims from original owners of unclaimed property, freeing veteran staff to handle complex claims. An average of 2,000 simple claims are processed each week.
Not all unclaimed property belongs to individuals and businesses. City and county governments owned $1.6 million of the money reclaimed in fiscal 2009. The Comptroller's Unclaimed Property and Local Government Assistance teams have begun a collaborative outreach effort to inform local officials about potential revenue from the unclaimed property fund.
"Local governments are facing financial challenges," Combs said. "When we receive money that clearly belongs to a city or county, we contact them immediately and encourage them to claim it."
In fiscal 2009, the Comptroller returned money to about 357 cities and 211 counties.
It is easy to search the unclaimed property database and reclaim forgotten funds at www.claimittexas.org