RICHMOND, Va. (WHSV)-- Due to COVID-19 forcing many people to stay home and lots of businesses deemed non-essential to close across Virginia, tens of thousands of people have become unemployed or have seen a reduction in income.
There may be some money that people have been missing for years, however, and the Virginia Department of the Treasury is issuing a reminder to help people find unclaimed property for free.
The department says they know any money that can be found through their free service could be a big help to citizens right now, so they wanted to get the information out to as many people as possible.
The department has an Unclaimed Property Program designed to reunite owners with their unclaimed money.
In Fiscal Year 2019, the program returned $87.1 million in unclaimed assets to state residents, which was a 9.5% increase over the previous fiscal year. More than $847 million has been paid out since the program started in 1961.
Every year, millions of dollars in assets are turned over to the state Treasury Department as unclaimed property. Anyone who has lived or worked in Virginia can visit the free site, www.vaMoneySearch.org, to check whether there are any lost or abandoned assets in their name.
Unclaimed property can include utility uncashed checks, deposits, customer refunds, unpaid wages, money from insurance policies, securities and investments, bank accounts, safety deposit box contents, and tangible property.
Virginia’s Consumer Protection Law requires businesses to turn unclaimed property over to the state, and then the state holds the property until the rightful owner files a claim for it.
“Our mission is to protect the property interests of citizens and return these assets to the rightful owner,” said Secretary of Finance Aubrey Layne. “Our program is a central ‘lost and found’ and every citizen should check our free search site at least once a year.”
If you're searching for unclaimed property, make sure to use the official state site and be aware of fee-based unauthorized or unsolicited offers to find unclaimed property for you.
“Reuniting owners with their unclaimed property is something we take very seriously,” said Virginia Treasurer Manju Ganeriwala. “We proactively attempt to locate owners through newspaper advertising, a free online search, and targeted outreach efforts. There is no deadline and no fees will be charged to claim your property.”
The official state site has no fees associated with it. If anyone claims to search for your unclaimed property for a fee, you're being scammed.