If you have unclaimed funds in your name, you don’t have to hire a professional to try to recover them. Be wary of individuals or websites that tell you otherwise.
According to the Ohio Department of Commerce, unclaimed property is any financial asset for which an owner has not generated activity for an extended period of time. Unclaimed funds can range from savings or checking to payroll, insurance proceeds, or stocks.
Individuals generally can learn about unclaimed funds through the Ohio Department of Commerce or their local county auditor’s office for free, though professional finders may charge individuals to recover unclaimed funds.
Consumers should beware of finders who won’t deliver on their promises. In September 2012, Attorney General Mike DeWine filed a lawsuit against a Columbus man who offered to recover unclaimed funds in consumers’ names but failed to deliver the funds.
The man, Alexander N. Mitchell, operated under the names Capital One Enterprises, Franklin Financial Services, and Asset Recovery Specialists. (Capital One Enterprises is unrelated to Capital One Financial Corp.)
According to the lawsuit, Mitchell charged consumers his upfront “finder’s fee” and kept the funds he recovered on their behalf.
He contacted consumers by phone or through the mail and offered to provide information about the holders of the unclaimed funds or offered to locate and deliver the unclaimed funds to the consumer in exchange for a percentage of the funds.
In some cases, Mitchell convinced consumers to grant him "Limited Power of Attorney" for the purpose of getting the funds, from which he said he would deduct a fee and forward the remainder to consumers. However, consumers never received their funds.
The Attorney General's lawsuit charged Mitchell with multiple violations of Ohio's Consumer Sales Practices Act, including failure to deliver, misrepresenting services, and knowingly entering into one-sided consumer transactions. The lawsuit also charged Mitchell with violating the Telephone Solicitation Sales Act. In the lawsuit, the Attorney General sought consumer restitution, a declaratory judgment, injunctive relief, and civil penalties. Mitchell failed to respond to the lawsuit, and the court granted a default judgment against him in December 2012. The judgment included an order to stop violating consumer law.
If you want to find out if there are unclaimed funds being held in your name or claim your unclaimed funds, remember that it is not necessary to pay a professional finder. Instead, you can contact the Ohio Department of Commerce at www.com.ohio.gov/unfd
or 614-466-4433 or contact your local county auditor's office. If you live outside Ohio, you also may contact the commerce department of that state or the county auditor where you live.
To file a complaint with the Ohio Attorney General's Office, visit www.OhioAttorneyGeneral.gov
or call 800-282-0515.