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California Holding $6 Billion of 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? Did you perhaps leave 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.

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.

Dixon 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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Sarah August 15, 2012 at 05:36 PM
The money should be used for education. Way too much has been cut from our schools and this would definitely help. Yes, I do work for a school district but I am not a teacher. I do not believe that our children are getting a good education anymore.
Aaron August 17, 2012 at 02:11 AM
"What do you think the state should do with its $6 billion of unclaimed cash and goods?" Is this really in question? How about continue to hold the $$ and do what they can to encourage the owners to claim it! It's NOT state money. The state has a legal obligation to run a "lost and found", and no, it's not "finders keepers - losers weepers". Actually, the state gets to keep the interest on all these funds being held as they seek the rightful owners. It works out quite well for the state. To even suggest the state should be able to seize the money is a joke. If someone dies as the state holds their money, the next of kin has rights to it.

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