State helps residents find unclaimed money

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Al Key/DRC
Martha Wasp, left, an outreach specialist for unclaimed property for the Texas Comptroller’s office, shows Denton resident Connie Seymour some money that is hers in unclaimed property, at the Joseph A. Carroll Building on Wednesday in Denton.

Mack Faegins Jr. made a point of stopping by the Joseph A. Carroll Building in Denton on Wednesday afternoon, one of more than 70 people who had already come through the doors by 2 p.m. to get help with unclaimed property.

Faegins learned recently that he was owed $698 from a life insurance payout after his father had died.

“I got the papers and started to fill them out, but I got lost,” he said.

When he learned that a representative from the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts would be in town Wednesday, he came by to get help with the paperwork to finish the claim.

Denton County Treasurer Cindy Brown agreed to host the state’s unclaimed property outreach team to help Denton County residents find out what they may be owed.

About $33 million of the $3.8 billion currently held by the state has a connection to Denton County — the people it belongs to either lives, or used to live, in Denton County, according to the comptroller’s office.

Brown said she was pleased with the turnout. Most of the people who had come in Wednesday were having trouble, like Faegins had been, she said. They knew they had a claim, but needed help with the paperwork. About one in 10 who came in Wednesday didn’t know, but wanted help searching the state’s database.

“And about half of those found something,” Brown said.

Although she didn’t have a complete report, she knew of at least one person who got help with a $4,000 claim and others who got help with claims of $100 or more. Many people had multiple claims.

Some had claims in the form of stocks, which would have to be sold at market rates before the claimant would know the full value, she said.

One person drove from Cooke County for help with the paperwork to claim $500, Brown said.

Not everyone has the technology available to them to file claims online, plus the outreach claims are processed faster — in several weeks compared to seven months or more for those filed online, Brown said.

State law requires many creditors to hold unpaid claims — insurance payouts, dormant bank accounts, utility deposit refunds, etc. — for three years. Then, the creditors must turn them over to the state comptroller for safekeeping until the rightful owners can claim them.

The state cannot use the money, but it can allocate the interest it earns.

Those people waiting Wednesday afternoon in the treasurer’s office dodged questions over their plans for their “found money.”

Brown chided a fellow county employee that he should take his wife out to dinner, but he said he wasn’t planning on telling her a thing.

As for Faegins, he said, “Oh, I’ve already spent it.”

More information about searching for unclaimed property can be found online at www.window.state.tx.us/up.

PEGGY HEINKEL-WOLFE can be reached at 940-566-6881 and via Twitter at @phwolfeDRC.


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