Claiming Your Unclaimed Property

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Millions of dollars worth of abandoned property, bank accounts and stocks are inside a giant state vault waiting to be reclaimed.

"We need to take the contents and turn them into money form so we can deposit it into the state school trust fund, says the Tome Egler with the Bureau of Unclaimed Property.

So while these items will get sold at auction, their cash value will always be available to the original owner who may discover through the state's easy to use Web site that they have a small fortune waiting for them.

We used that database and went to the addresses of people we found on the list.

We went to Naome Swain's home. When she answered the door she said, "Mark is my son and dawn is my daughter in law.”

She was asked, “Do you know the state of Florida has $6,823 worth of unclaimed property in their name?”

Naome said, “I didn't know that, but it’s very exciting because they really need it. They're just moving to Nashville and are about to have their fourth baby."

We gave her the information she needs to help her son get the money, and on we went to another woman’s home and said to her: "You've just learned that you got $1857.73, according to the Florida Unclaimed Property Fund. What do you make of this moment?”

“I think it’s marvelous, of course.”

“No idea you had it?”

“No idea at all."

Obviously a lot of people don't realize they have money or lost treasure inside this vault, which is where the government meets the private sector.

"Some people prefer to deal with the private sector versus big government, and that unclaimed property program is a big government program," says Harry Carson.

Carson is a locator, using the state's public database to link people to their unclaimed property. He does all the leg work, but then gets a variable percentage of the money returned.

He adds, "We get a small percentage and the state pays us directly after the client is paid.”

Tome Egler of the Bureau responds, "If you have $40,000 to $50,000 and you have to pay 20 percent to a locator, that's a lot of money."

Carson used to work for the Unclaimed Property Bureau. Now he's making it work for him. Whether you rely on a professional or do it yourself for free, you might find yourself saying: "I will put it in the bank."

See for yourself if you have any unclaimed property.