States have billions in unclaimed funds and some of it may be yours

Billions of dollars worth of unclaimed funds sit in Columbus, Frankfort, Indianapolis, and other state capitals and you might be the rightful owner of some of it.

Akil Hardy, who leads the Ohio Division of Unclaimed Funds, says banks and businesses have dumped a whopping $279 million into the fund this fiscal year after striking out trying to find the rightful owners. Of that, only $54 million has been claimed despite the pandemic causing a need for many.

“We thought we would see a lot more claims come through our door,” Hardy said. “It just sits there until the rightful owners come to claim the money.”

The money sits in an interest-bearing account. Other items, including rare coins, and the contents of entire safe deposit boxes, are stored in a safe at the Department of Commerce. They are held there in perpetuity until someone claims them.

“We get stamps, postcards,” Hardy said. “Poker chips that somebody put in the box from when they were in Vegas. We’ve seen gold bars.”

Other items include a Vatican coin from the Sistine Chapel, a sterling silver set of U.S. presidential medallions, a USSR commemorative coin from the Battle of Stalingrad, and a dollar bill from 1886. The division of unclaimed funds has been on a mission to get the word out.

“Every little bit counts,” Hardy said. “We’ve had someone claim as much as two million dollars.”

Cities, municipalities, and school districts have unclaimed funds as well. FOX19 NOW Investigates filed public records requests asking for specific dollar amounts that tri-state municipalities and districts can potentially claim. The city of Hamilton had at least $5,000 worth of unclaimed funds. The city of Middletown had at least $1,300. The Lakota Local School District had more than $3,500.

Hardy says the division’s largest-ever payout, $3.4 million, went to the city of Elyria in the Cleveland area. He says he is grateful to be able to help, “We are returning money to people that could honestly change their lives. For some people it allows people to put gas in the tank and food on the table. For some other folks, like we had an individual who used the money to purchase their first house.”