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By Susanna Maize
Finding free money can be as easy as a quick internet search. No, that’s not the subject of the latest email in your spam box. FindMassMoney.com, the official website of the Massachusetts Unclaimed Property Division, connects residents with unclaimed funds from forgotten bank accounts, overpaid bills, and more.
One in ten people across the Commonwealth have unclaimed property – say that closed savings account or a refund from your wireless service provider – that the State Treasurer’s Office wants to get back to them. Filing a claim for those funds is fast, easy, and free — and you don’t have to be Lady Gaga to end up on the list of unclaimed property owners. Take it from these Bay Staters who used FindMassMoney.com and discovered they had unclaimed money waiting.
Mike Hellmann uncovered missing credit card rewards
Mike Hellmann, 52, had always prioritized saving for his son’s college education. That’s why he opened a rewards credit card that earned cash-back that would be set aside to pay for future education expenses. After using the card for years and saving up hundreds of dollars in reward points, the credit card company closed down — and Hellmann’s rewards seemed to evaporate.
Once his eldest was readying up to go to university, Hellmann finally remembered and started hunting down the missing funds. “That’s when I decided to check FindMassMoney.com as a long-shot attempt to see if I could get this money back,” he says. After a quick search of his name, the Andover resident found that he had $943.95 to his name.
Within a week, the check was at Hellman’s door. And not only was it the full rewards that he earned all those years ago, but also interest the money had earned while in the state’s hands. “I thought the money I had lost was gone and I was so pleased that the State had reclaimed my money,” says Hellmann.
It might have taken a bit longer to get there, but the money Hellmann earned could finally go towards what it was supposed to: his son’s college education. “I was surprised by simply how easy it was,” Hellmann says. “It really made me feel good about the State government.”
Nancy McDonald had multiple sources of unclaimed funds
Nancy McDonald, 70, had discovered she had unclaimed property in Massachusetts over ten years ago. But due to a complicated documentation process and busy schedule, she was never able to get her hands on the money. Prompted by a death in the family, she decided to try her luck again last year. “I logged onto the site again and was very pleasantly surprised by the updated process that was so straightforward and painless,” says McDonald.
After a quick search, she discovered that she had three different sources of unclaimed property: an older savings account, some uncashed dividend checks, and estate money from her parents’ investments, all totalling $1,118.98. “I almost couldn’t believe it when I received the email confirmation,” says McDonald.
And the funds could not have come at a better time. Last year, McDonald made a cross-state move from the Boston area out to Worcester, so the extra money in her pocket helped cushion some of the unexpected moving expenses that cropped up. She didn’t need the money when she first searched for it, but now, the timing was perfect.
For anyone reluctant to use the site, McDonald emphasizes how easy it is to use, especially when it comes time to prove the money is yours. “Why wouldn’t anyone claim their own money that the state is trying so persistently to return to the rightful owners,” she says.
Joshua Heerter recouped costs from a billing error
Joshua Heerter, 37, was able to recover money from his youth that he thought was long gone. As a college student, he saved his credit card information on a utility bill that continued to charge him after he moved. After noticing the extra charges, he got in contact with the company, but nothing ever came from it.
Fifteen years later, after receiving a tip from a family member, he finally was able to track down the funds he had chalked up as a loss. “I was thrilled somebody had kept track of the money they shouldn’t have taken from my account,” Heerter says.
The extra funds were able to help him pay off a portion of his student loans from that same time period. “It was so easy that I recommended it to like eight people I know. Not without first snooping on their findable money though,” Heerter says.
Inspired by these stories of Massachusetts residents who were reunited with their unclaimed property? Visit FindMassMoney.com today to see if any of the $3 billion in unclaimed funds currently held belong to you.