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May 16, 2012

Treasure hunt: Attorney General explains how to find unclaimed property

SELLERSBURG — In just a few clicks, Susan Priest found bank accounts she forgot she had opened.

While the $25 plus interest in the two accounts she started for her grandchildren won’t put them through college, it was an exciting discovery, she said.

“I probably would have never looked,” she said. “I had forgot that I had even done it.”

Priest found the money as part of an event held by Attorney General Greg Zoeller to explain the state’s unclaimed property program and search options at Ivy Tech Community College on Wednesday.

Showing people how to find unclaimed property is the most fun part about being attorney general, Zoeller said, and it allows him to help citizens in a different way.

“I have a mission to serve individuals,” he said. “It’s an effort to return funds to the rightful owners.”

Unclaimed property includes investment earnings, insurance proceeds and benefits, wages and money from bank accounts. It does not include real estate, abandoned vehicles or other such items.

There is about $4 million in claimable property from Clark County and about $2.76 million from Floyd County. In total, there is $350 million in unclaimed property statewide.

Once people find property, they fill out a mail-in form to claim the money. About $44.3 million was returned to Hoosiers last year.

Zoeller also used the visit to roll out an Indiana Unclaimed mobile app that he said will spread awareness about the program to tech-savvy users and hopefully encourage them to look for themselves and others.

He said it will hopefully increase the return rate.

“If I can get it to spread virally, it can help me do my job,” he said.

Lenae Kavanaugh found dividends owed to her in-laws totaling about $80. She said she never knew the search was available and was glad to both learn about it and turn up some money.

“The more people know about it, the more apt they are to look,” she said.

Brookelynn Guthrie didn’t strike gold, but she said she would tell her friends about the site.

“It doesn’t cost anything to look,” she said.

Zoeller said he always reminds people to search the database not only for themselves, but for others.

“In Indiana, we’re Hoosiers,” he said, “and Hoosiers are very friendly, so we make sure we find money for our neighbors.”

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