From Gold Bars to Sardines, State Holds $6 Billion in Unclaimed Property

All those forgotten bank accounts and mislaid safety deposit boxes make for one huge lost-and-found collection. Could any of that $6 billion belong to you?

Are you missing any diamonds? How about those bars of solid gold you might have forgotten about? Maybe you left a lump sum of cash in an old bank account?

If you did, then you're one of the absent-minded Californians contributing to more than $6 billion of unclaimed items in the state's lost-and-found collection.

State Controller John Chiang is on a mission to find the owners of this treasure trove — all 17.6 million of them. 

Some of the more unusual items in the kitty include a sack of loose diamonds with an estimated worth of $500,000, almost 20 pounds of gold bars worth $375,000, and — less valuable but perhaps no less precious to the long-lost owners out there — a can of sardines, a can of condensed milk and plenty of family photos.

Even the city of Mill Valley is in the mix with $68 worth of overpayments to the likes of the Avis Budget Group, while the now-defunct Smith & Hawken store in Strawberry Village has an unclaimed refund of $331 from AT&T.

Much of the unclaimed property comes from safety deposit boxes and lost or forgotten financial accounts, which includes:

  • cash in inactive bank accounts
  • overpayments to businesses.
  • terminated insurance policies, stocks, securities and utility deposits

"In many cases, businesses have lost contact with the customer and sent the account to the state for safekeeping," said Chiang in a video message about the state's unclaimed property.

San Rafael businesses and individuals have contributed a share of the unclaimed goods being held by the state. The unclaimed cash comes from a variety of sources, including fee refunds from the school district, group policy benefits from employers and outstanding checks or overpayments to agencies.

So, how do you find out if you're owed treasure? The state controller's office provides an online searchable database for unclaimed property in California. Type in your name, or your business name, and see what you've been missing.

What do you think the state should do with its $6 billion of unclaimed cash and goods? Share your ideas in the comments below.

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David Jensen August 14, 2012 at 03:29 PM
...oh yeah...my favorite site...lots of musicians on there...type in the Grateful Dead...and Phil Lesh...and Narada Michael Walden for starters..,


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