Throughout March and April, I have had the privilege of traveling throughout Nebraska and returning Unclaimed Property to its rightful owners. While I interact with the people of Nebraska, I am reminded of all the things I love about this state: solid, hard working individuals who want what is best for their families. Nebraskans, like people all over the country, are concerned about finances and are tightening their belts. When I took office over three years ago, I took on the responsibility of safeguarding the funds of the people of this state. Nebraska is currently holding over $80 million in Unclaimed Property. During such uncertain economic times, I see it as my duty to return as much of this money as possible.
While Unclaimed Property is easily searchable online (the search database can be accessed at treasurer.org, as well as directions on how to make claims,) there is something so worthwhile about knocking on someone's door and handing them a check with their name on it. You see, there are over 200,000 Nebraskans with Unclaimed Property; that's nearly 1 in 8 Nebraskans; So if you don't have unclaimed property, someone you know surely does.
Unclaimed Property takes many forms: abandoned checks, forgotten stocks, lost bonds, vendor payments, gift certificates, insurance takings or items of value left in security deposit boxes that go unclaimed and are now is held by the state. But this is not the state's money, it is the people's money. In October of 2009, a collection of ancient artifacts were handed over to my office from a Lincoln bank. These items, including artifacts of Egyptian, Roman, Greek, Phoenician and African origin had been sitting in a security deposit for years and years. They belonged to man who had once owned a Lincoln antique shop and was now facing some difficult financial circumstances. The articles, which ranged from masks and pottery, to spears and daggers, were appraised and valued at nearly $200,000. Unclaimed Property can change a life.
And while the typical claim may not be life-changing (the average claim in 2010 has been roughly $800,) it still may be enough to make a significant difference in a family's budget.
Returning Unclaimed Property has become a labor of love for me and my staff, and we have been very aggressive in going out and finding rightful owners. After all, it is their money. In less than one term in office, I have returned over $45 million to more than 60,000 Nebraskans. That's more than any past State Treasurer; it is also more money than has been returned in the past 30 years.
To see if you have Unclaimed Property in Nebraska, visit Treasurer.org, or contact our Unclaimed Property Office at (402) 471 --8497.