Nearly 50,000 Rhode Islanders had been reunited with $15.2 million in unclaimed property during the 2018 fiscal year. In Warwick alone, $2.4 million was returned to 5,688 residents, according to the General Treasurer’s office.
Unclaimed property can be from an old bank account, a check that was never deposited, or if a company owes a former employee money but doesn’t know where they live, said Treasurer Seth Magaziner.
“A lot of families in Rhode Island are struggling to make ends meet,” he said.
In November of 2017, Magaziner launched the initiative YOUR MONEY, which would effectively and efficiently reunite people with their unclaimed property. The program sends checks to those who have addresses already on file at the Department of Revenue, so they can receive their money.
According to Magaziner, Rhode Island is ahead of almost all states with an automatic system for sending out checks.
“Our program makes Rhode Island only the second state in the country that automatically reunites thousands of people with their missing money with no paperwork or red tape,” he said in a statement.
Prior to the establishment of YOUR MONEY, the record number of checks sent to people with unclaimed property was nearly 12,000 in 2014 – compared to this year’s record breaking 49,189.
There was also a significant jump from the 2017 and the 2018 fiscal year, with a difference of nearly 40,000. Most checks are in the range of $250.
However, the program hasn’t exactly reunited everyone with unclaimed property.
“It’s hard to say for sure,” Magaziner said in an interview. Each year, the General Treasurer’s office receives nearly $20 million in unclaimed property. There’s approximately 200,000 pieces of property left in the system, whether it be from a long-since deceased person who had no next of kin, or the person with the property isn’t sure if they have any to claim.
An individual’s right to recover their unclaimed property never expires, but the money goes into the State General Fund if not returned. The owner can still claim it even after it is there, however. If a Rhode Islander is unsure as to whether or not they have money that is rightfully theirs, they can always check at www.findRImoney.com.
Since the 2018 fiscal year was so successful in making sure property was returned to the rightful owners, Magaziner is optimistic for the coming years.
“We’re going to continue to reunite people,” he stated, “we’re going to keep working hard at it.” He said that the state is going to keep up with returning unclaimed property, and try to spread the word by advertising and attending events.
Magaziner’s goal is to make Rhode Island a national leader in reuniting people with their unclaimed property.