5 On Your Side

State agencies have unclaimed money

Posted February 17, 2011 6:00 p.m. EST
Updated February 17, 2011 7:43 p.m. EST

— While most money on the North Carolina State Treasurer's unclaimed property list belongs to citizens, tens of thousands belongs to state agencies.

The North Carolina Department of Revenue has nearly $71,000 in unclaimed cash. North Carolina State University has nearly $20,000 ready to claim, and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has more than $15,500 in missing money.

State Treasurer Janet Cowell wasn’t available Thursday for comment, but spokeswoman Heather Strickland told WRAL News that, once a year, the state Controller's Office claims money for all state agencies that's been sitting unclaimed for more than a year.

However, the claims process isn’t always simple.

“It's almost like putting a puzzle piece together. Seeing what the numbers are. Seeing what the different accounts are and kind of piecing that all together,” said Beth Stevenson, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Revenue.

Stevenson said a lot of her department’s unclaimed money is checks or money orders they were never received for a variety of reasons. She said banks often lump together several customer payments, which complicates the claim process.

“We're doing everything we can to identify and collect that money that is due to us,” Stevenson said.

As for other agencies, the Department of Transportation said it checks yearly, and North Carolina's Child Support Office said it gets "sporadic" notices from the treasurer's office.

The Department of Insurance said most of its unclaimed cash really belongs to individuals but said employees still check with the office regularly.

N.C. State tries to find its missing money more than any other public entity WRAL News talked with. The school claimed nearly $22,000 in the last two and a half years. The university filed its latest claim three months ago but hasn’t received the money yet.

The treasurer’s website allows anyone to sign up for e-mail alerts to let them know if they have unclaimed cash.