Today, I gave a man I’ve never met $27,000. I know nothing about him. We’re not related. We don’t share any acquaintances. In short, he’s a total stranger.
I do this as often as I can, which is fairly often. It makes me feel good.
I’m writing this so you can help me give away more. You don’t have to write to me explaining why you deserve to be a recipient. You don’t have to beg or grovel. You don’t even have to apply!
Let me explain.
Unlike Trump, I’m not rich. But like Trump, I’m giving away other people’s money. Actually, I’m giving people their own money back. Often, it’s money they don’t even realize they’re owed.
In today’s case, a man on sabbatical in New York, opened a local bank account and used it for his normal expenses while he was away for that year. He returned home but didn’t close the account. He received regular statements from the bank, until one day they stopped coming. Just like that. No more statements. Worse, no more account!
It turned out that the bank had been acquired by another bank and in the turnover of records, a typo was made in the man’s address. And suddenly, poof, the money was gone. The old bank no longer existed. The successor bank’s name was not known. And the statements were returned “Address unknown”. And so twenty years passed.
Thankfully, banks and other holders of other people’s money are not allowed to profit from such events. Otherwise, there’d be a lot more “accidental” typos. And believe me, there are plenty of run of the mill typos without any motivation to make more.
As I said, holders can’t just keep the money forever. No, the laws of unclaimed property provide that if there is no contact between a holder and the owner of an asset – it could even be stocks, gift certificates, or a safety deposit box – the holder has to turn the asset over to some government body that holds it until the original owner comes to claim it.
That’s where I come in. I find these unclaimed properties in government databases and then look for the owners. And I’m pretty good at it. I find people that the original holders couldn’t find – not that they had any reason to look hard. Whether they found the owner or not, they’d have to give up the asset.
And so, I found this record of $27,000 belonging to someone with a strange looking address in Israel. The owner’s name is fairly uncommon and with a little bit of help from Google, I was able to locate him. I wrote him, about his claim and he wrote me back about the 20 year disappearance of his bank account, which had ended up sitting in the account of the State Treasurer of Nevada!
Yes, your money can end up in the strangest of places based on the arcane laws of unclaimed assets. They could be places you’ve never set foot in. On top of that, if the government body happens to be paying interest on your claim, you may not even recognize the amount. And if the original holder was sold or doing business under a trade name, you might not realize you’d ever done business with the corporation that reported the money. But in spite of all this, the claim could still be yours.
That brings me to my problem and why I’m writing this article. Many people and organizations don’t believe me when I contact them. I understand why they are suspicious. There are so many scams out there. I’ve gotten those e-mails too. Plenty of them. I trash them fast.
For the past ten years, I’ve mostly been contacting not for profits. I alerted Canadian Hadassah-WIZO about three dormant bank accounts in their names. They got over $10,000 back. I contacted State of Israel bonds and Jewish Federations and the Red Cross and public libraries and on and on. The work was painstaking and frustrating. Often I was ignored and the money is still sitting waiting to be reclaimed.
There must be a better way, I thought. I am sitting on so much information representing so much money. So I decided to choose a sector and simply publish what I know. I chose to focus on claims with Israeli addresses in a selection of databases that were relatively easy to search. And it’s working!
So, if you live in Israel or once lived in Israel or know someone who ever had an Israeli address, use the search box on the right hand side of this page, above the list of cities. You can search for any text string. Look for your family name or your street name or your city name. Remember there are many typos in these claims, so be sure to try as many different spellings as you can think of. I’ve categorized the claims by location so you can easily check all the claims for people in your town. Just click on the city name that interests you in the list to the right.
And then go after your money and encourage your friends and relatives to do the same. Don’t let it just sit there forever. Each claim on the site has a link to the database holding it. That’s where you’ll find instructions for claiming. Most of the time it just requires filling out an online form and providing some basic form of ID. It’s a lot easier than you might suppose. But only the owner, or the owner’s heir (yes, you can make claims for the deceased and it could be a lot!) or the owner’s legal representative can claim.
I can’t promise you’ll have a claim as large as $27,000. But then you never know. Many of the states don’t reveal the claim amounts so you’ll have to fill out a form to find out how much you’re owed. But unlike the Lotto, you’re almost guaranteed to be a winner. So go for it.