Tennesseans are owed nearly $800 million in unclaimed property

(Photo: WKRN)


TRI-CITIES, TN (WJHL)- Millions of dollars are up for grabs in the state of Tennessee and some of it could belong to you.

There is more than $41 billion of unclaimed property nationwide according to the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators. In most cases, unclaimed property is money that is owned to an individual or business but has been turned over by businesses and organizations because they cannot find the rightful owner. The Tennessee Department of Treasury has more than $789 million of unclaimed property.

Shelli King with the Tennessee Department of Treasury said, “It could be lost wages from a job that you left. It could be a refund check, a deposit check, contents of a checking account that’s no longer active.”
Long-time WJHL Photographer Doug Counts discovered his wife and late-father have unclaimed money in Tennessee “That’s our old address but that’s my wife,” Counts said when he noticed his wife’s name on the state’s unclaimed property website. She is owed about $32. “Refund due so maybe from a cell phone or something like that,” Counts said. He also found out that his late-father is owed nearly $60.

King said Tennessee currently has more than six million individual pieces of property. “In Tennessee you can claim money that belongs to you at any point. There’s never a point when it expires,” King said. The largest amount ever returned in the Volunteer State was a $1.2 million claim. “It was a stock option that went back to a widow. She didn’t even know her husband had taken it out,” King said.

King said the department goes through a four-step process to try to reunite a owner with their money whenever unclaimed property comes into the division. She said the first step is to cross-check employer databases if the property has a social security number attached to it. “The second thing we do,” Kings said, “We actually send a letter to the last known address that’s been turned over. Third thing we do, we advertise names of those with unclaimed property in papers across the state… Every single piece of property is listed on our website [as well].”  King said people can even claim money for a deceased relative.”There’s a few more steps needed to claim that but our claim examiners actually work with individuals to help provide the documentation needed to verify their claim.” Tennessee returned a record-breaking 41,000 claims last year with the majority originating from people who discovered their name on the state’s website, www.claimitTN.gov.

King reminds people to beware of websites that make you pay to check for unclaimed property. She said you should never have to pay money to find out if you have money. She also recommends checking online often because the treasury department constantly gets new unclaimed property and to check for common name misspellings. To check for unclaimed property in the state of Tennessee click here. To check for unclaimed property in the state of Virginia click here. For all other states click here.

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