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Forgotten, but not-so-hidden, treasure

Name bar For months, I've been hearing about how Florida is holding on to more than $1 billion in unclaimed stuff that current and former residents have left behind. This is not stuff as in moldy sweatshirts from your college dorm room or sunglasses you left on the beach on that trip to the Keys. This is a deposit made for a utility company in a town you lived in seven years ago, safe deposit boxes long forgotten about, plus dusty stamp collections, coins and jewels.

The state auctions the stuff off after a while -- unclaimed cash goes into a state account for education -- but that's only after a lot of years go by. And there's no statute of limitations on claiming the cash. All you have to do to search for a claim is go to the website, or call 888-258-2253 or 850-413-5555.

I certainly could use a few extra bucks. And from college until a few years ago, I moved roughly 10 times, bouncing from dorm to dorm at the University of Florida, followed by a string of apartments as I changed jobs rapidly during the early days of my career.

But no, there is apparently not an errant dime to my name. Score one for my anal-retentive personality. To appease my curiosity, I started entering the names of my Business Desk colleagues here at the Herald. I got four hits in a matter of minutes.Seach-for-unclaimed-propert

My colleague Niala Boodhoo, our paper's social media maven and multimedia reporter extraordinaire, said she actually knew the state was in possession of some of her cash, but she was under the impression it was complete pain in the something-or-other to get her money back. (Ironically, it's The Miami Herald that owes her $62.50.) It took me roughly three minutes to get a copy of her claim form mailed to her home. She'll have to include a copy of a photo id and mail the paperwork off to the state, but otherwise, claiming her stuff costs nothing.

Technology and small business reporter Bridget Carey said she isn't sure what the state has in her name, but she is pretty certain the items listed under her name once belonged to her. She's planning on getting back to me with the details. Doug Hanks is apparently owed $48 from a lapsed New York Times subscription. He was skeptical at first though, wondering if the site was a scam. When I told him it's run by the state Department of Financial Services, that was enough assurance for him.

I was hooked. I started entering the names of my friends. Newlyweds Leslie and Scott both are due some cash. Leslie, like Niala, had a vague recollection of a small check gone astray but wasn't sure how to retrieve it.

"You are very nifty," she told me, when I rang her to let her know the state owes her about $100.

I like to think so.

Posted by Nirvi Shah at 12:17 PM on April 21, 2010 | Permalink | Facebook | Digg | del.icio.us | AIM



Really cool

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