Minnesota might owe you money
By Mike Sundin
The time of year when many Minnesotans look forward to a tax refund is upon us, and many expert money managers suggest we save as much of that refund as possible. It sounds like a great idea, but thousands of Minnesota residents may be keeping money tucked away without realizing it.
Many Minnesotans have unclaimed cash being held by the state, and after it was announced in 2015 that Minnesota was holding a record $711 million in lost and unclaimed funds, it's time to remind you again that the state may have something that belongs to you.
Officials at the Minnesota Department of Commerce tell us that people lose track of their money or financial property because of a change of address, the unexpected loss of a loved one, or just plain forgetfulness. Legislators, and folks at the Department of Commerce, want to help Minnesotans reunite with money they may have long forgotten about, or never knew existed.
This "unclaimed property" includes various types of intangible property that has been abandoned for a specified period of time. Examples include: savings and checking accounts, uncashed checks, securities, dividends, insurance refunds and wages. According to the Minnesota Uniform Disposition of Unclaimed Property Act, all unclaimed property must be reported to the Minnesota Department of Commerce.
Each year, Commerce receives millions of dollars in unclaimed property from businesses and organizations that have lost contact with the owners. The Department is responsible for safeguarding the funds or property until claimed by the rightful owners or heirs.
If you go online to the Department's website and do searches of names in your family, you might be surprised what you find. Google "Minnesota Department of Commerce, Missing Money." I thought it would be hard to find people. It wasn't.
Most alarming in this process has been the higher number of veterans and active duty military personnel who have unclaimed funds. It makes sense if you think about it. Military personnel are often on the move and away from home for long periods. The busy demands of active duty life can take precedence over keeping track of an old bank account, a final check from a past employer, an appliance rebate or a life insurance policy of a parent or relative. All checks from insurance companies, banks, retailers and past employers that go uncashed are eventually deposited with the state in the Unclaimed Property account.
And it's not just veterans and active military who are not being notified that the state is holding a record amount of their unclaimed and lost funds.
While the Department of Commerce deserves credit for its public awareness and outreach efforts, current state law requires no affirmative effort to find and notify Minnesotans with unclaimed funds. Nor does the state utilize full-page newspaper ads listing the names of Minnesotans with unclaimed funds like it used to. Full page ads continue to be the best way we have to notify people of their unclaimed funds. In South Dakota, they still run these ads and they're reuniting thousands of South Dakotans with their lost and unclaimed money, while Minnesota is increasing the amount we hold each year that we don't run ads.
For many Minnesotans, discovery of significant unclaimed property can be life changing. If you have family or friends who are veterans or active military members, please take 90 seconds to see if they have unclaimed funds at https://mn.gov/commerce/consumers/file-a-complaint/inquiries-and-informa... . Or you can call or email the Unclaimed Property Program at:
• E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
• Phone: 651-539-1545
• Greater MN only: 1-800-925-5668
It takes just a little time, but it can make a big difference.