Ill. treasurer's office has $1.4B in unclaimed assets

August 30, 2010 (CHICAGO) The Illinois treasurer's office says it has more than $1.4 billion in unclaimed assets that it would like to give to the rightful owners.

So, how do you check to see if you're among those with assets to claim? It's pretty easy.

It does seem strange, claiming your own money, but, apparently, thousands of Illinois residents lost track of their money and the state wants to give it back.

Mary Gardner got a surprise last spring: extra money.

"I was happy," Gardner said, "because I didn't know anything like that existed. It was good. I felt good."

Gardner's granddaughter went online to to search for unclaimed money. It turned out Gardner was among more than 60,000 Illinoisans due money.

The state treasurer's office has $1.4 billion in unclaimed money, often from old accounts.

"You might have your own little economic stimulus. They are the rightful owners," said Robin Kelly, Illinois treasurer chief of staff. "We want people to get their money back."

In addition to money forgotten in dormant accounts, banks have turned over safe deposit boxes full of personal property -- some items that may not have monetary value but sentimental value for someone.

"There's rings, all kinds of jewelry, from estates. There have been medals, pictures, things that people left in safe deposit boxes," said Kelly.

To check if you have any unclaimed money or items, go to the website, enter your name and city.

Of course, like Gardner, you could have some tech savvy person search for you. Gardner had put off a car tune-up for three years. With the extra $550, it was time for that tune-up.

"I felt that the tune up was going to be something like $600. It turned out to be more like $1,500, so it came in handy considering I'm retired," Gardner said.

If there is money to be claimed, the individual has to identify his or her self. In the case of a deceased relative, one could show that relative's will or death certificate and prove a relationship to the deceased to have the items released.

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