HAMBURG, N.Y. (WIVB) — It is a staggering figure: $16 billion. That is how much money New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli says is being held in the Office of Unclaimed Funds.
The state is barred by law from spending the money because it actually belongs to private citizens and their estates, so DiNapoli is reaching out to New Yorkers, and former New Yorkers now living out of state, to get the money to its rightful owners.
A team from the Office of Unclaimed Funds has set up a kiosk in the Event Center at the Erie County Fair to give some of that money away its Western New York owners.
Team leader David Lodge said it is a simple process you can even do at home.
“They can search their name. If it is an individual claim, they find money on here. They can put their information in, and we will get them a check in about 7 to 10 days.”
The Office of Unclaimed Funds holds abandoned assets until the rightful owner comes along to claim them, such as closed bank accounts, utility deposits, and expired gift cards. The state has been holding onto some assets, says Lodge, since the office was opened in 1946.
Robert Higgins of Orchard Park is waiting to get his check from the state. Higgins went online and later got a call from the Office of Unclaimed Funds that he is set to receive a substantial sum, “She is saying, well the monies that we have are in the 5-figure range, and I said, oh, okay.”
But Higgins’ 5-figure check pales in comparison to some of the unclaimed funds Lodge said the state has doled out, “The largest estate claim that has been paid out was about $8 million. We had a $4.2 million stock account get paid out.”
Lodge and the Comptroller’s outreach team are set up in the Events Center for the duration of the fair, but you can do your own search by clicking on the Comptroller’s Office of Unclaimed Funds’ website, or call toll-free at 1-800-221-9311.