Unclaimed Property

Every State has a method for individuals to search if they have any unclaimed property that has been reported to the State Controller’s Office or Treasury Office.  People are often surprised at how much unclaimed property there is, especially when they search their name and find that something is waiting for them to claim.  Nowadays in most States you can easily search your name online to see if there is a windfall with your name on it.  Start with Google, and search for “unclaimed property” followed by the name of your State to find a link to the government entity that keeps those records.

A savvy investigator (or stalker) may also try to locate records of unclaimed property in your name.  When a record is found, the listing will have your name and address associated it.  And now you can see why I have chosen to write about this topic.  There are many ways to locate an address for someone online, and this is just one more method that may compromise your location or a previous address you used.  If you find yourself while searching unclaimed property there are two things you need to consider.

1. Should I claim the money that is owed to me?
2. Is there a way to remove my name and address from the State’s website?

Only you can decide if the amount of money you are owed is worth claiming.  If you look into the requirements of how to claim your unclaimed money or property, you will see why this would make someone with privacy concerns pause.  The requirements to claim your money are lengthy, very specific, and a lot of documentation is needed to prove you are who you say you are.  Government issued ID, a second form of ID, utility bills, a physical address that can be verified with another document in your name, etc, etc.  It is a lengthy list of requirements and in my scenario, I decided it wasn’t worth the effort and invasion of my personal information.  I do not know for sure if the info you provide would ever be sold and/or populated elsewhere…but I suspect there’s a good change of that happening.

Now, what if you choose not to claim your property?  Can you remove your name and address from appearing on the State’s website when someone searches and finds your unclaimed property listing?  I am happy to report that you most likely can.

On the State’s website you will need to search for a “Privacy Policy” and locate a physical address or email for the office that administers unclaimed property claims.  Often you will need to mail a letter; which is what I did.  When I did this for a relative that lives in another State I was able to send the request in via email.  The address on file for the unclaimed property was a decade old, however in my quest to be thorough, I wanted it to be removed from their website.  I received a response in both cases, within a few days, that the record would be promptly removed from the database on no longer searchable.  I was also asked if I wanted to claim the money due, which I turned down because it would have required me to disclose and verify current personal information.

Oftentimes, this type of data does not show up in results from search engines.  You will need to search the State’s website to find your unclaimed property information if you have any.  Remember, someone else may also be checking these resources when trying to locate you.  Explore options to remove your information by digging into the privacy policy and then communicating with the source of that information.  As always, articulate your privacy need, appear professional, and enjoy another little victory when you no longer find yourself listed!

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