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Media > Newsletters > Consumer Advocate > February 2017 > Unclaimed Funds 101

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Unclaimed Funds 101

Do you think there are unclaimed funds out there belonging to you? Are you unsure of how to claim these funds? Have you recently been contacted by someone who offered to help you claim funds owed to you?

Unclaimed funds can originate from an inactive bank account, rent or utility deposits, uncashed checks, uncashed insurance policies, or unclaimed money transfers (such as MoneyGram or Western Union products). If there is no activity in the account for a certain period of time, generally three to five years, and the owner cannot be reached, the funds are reported to the Ohio Department of Commerce’s Division of Unclaimed Funds. The division then works to track down the rightful owner and re-unite the Ohioan with his or her money.

In order to claim your funds, you must prove that you are the rightful owner of the funds and that you are legally entitled to claim the funds (such as if the owner is incapacitated or deceased). If the original owner is deceased, contact the probate court in the county where the account owner lived when they died and obtain documentation that grants you the right to obtain the funds. A Social Security number is required when claiming funds for IRS tax reporting purposes related to the payment of interest.

There are companies that may help you find or recover your unclaimed funds for a fee; however, the company can charge no more than 10 percent of the total amount claimed. To circumvent this fee, you may wish to work directly with the Ohio Department of Commerce’s Division of Unclaimed Funds, which provides official claim forms that are free and will lead to claim payment after verification. The state does allow companies to assist consumers in their search for unclaimed funds for a fee, but they must be registered with the Ohio Department of Commerce. To find out if a company is registered, call the Division of Unclaimed Funds at 877-644-6823.

Although there may be some legitimate companies that can assist you in recovering your funds, you should also be on the lookout for scammers. Some Ohioans have received letters or emails from operators claiming that a recovery agent will help them recover unclaimed funds for a service fee. However, once the fee is sent, no work is performed. The same scammers may also ask you to verify your Social Security number or to provide a copy of a driver’s license. It is likely that these scammers will use your personal information to steal your identity, so it is important not to give out this information.
To see if you have any unclaimed funds or for more information on how to claim funds from the Ohio Department of Commerce’s Division of Unclaimed Funds, visit

If you have been a victim of an unclaimed funds scam, contact the Ohio Attorney General’s Office by visiting, or call 1-800-282-0515.