5 On Your Side

Avoid the fees: Free state service can help find unclaimed money

Posted August 10, 2016 5:00 p.m. EDT
Updated August 11, 2016 5:56 p.m. EDT

North Carolina's Missing Money database isn't a secret, but it's still an unknown entity for many in the Tar Heel State.

It has about $440 million in it, money forgotten and unclaimed by people across the state. It comes from old bank accounts, insurance policies and utility deposits.

And it's free money, if you know how to go about getting it.

Johnston County resident Denise Underwood knew about the database, but it wasn't top of mind when she got an intriguing letter in the mail about money owed to her.

"When I opened (the letter), I was surprised," she said.

The letter came from My Money Monitor, a self-described claims recovery service. Underwood was due $407 of unclaimed money.

"Well, first I said, 'Oh Lord, God's going to send me money,'" Underwood quipped. "I immediately went and got the paper notarized, thinking, 'OK, I'm just going to get my money.'"

She did get her money, but for a fee.

My Money Monitor charged Underwood 20 percent of the $407 – or $81 – because they found her. Underwood couldn't cancel because she had already signed the paperwork, which the company told her was a contract.

"It's upsetting, and the main reason I contacted you is because I don't want anyone else to go through this," Underwood said.

Anyone who believes they may be owed unclaimed money can go through NCCash.com for free. It is a service available through the State Treasurer's Office website for unclaimed property.

The website lists the rightful owners and possible addresses of forgotten bank accounts, paychecks, utility deposits, insurance policy proceeds, stock, bonds and even contents of safe deposit boxes.

State law requires the money and property be turned over to the treasurer.

Anyone can check the list, and if they find missing money, they can file a claim for free.

"I've seen your segment, but we kind of thought, 'That isn't going to happen to me,'" Underwood said. "It's not going to happen to me, and it did."

5 On Your Side segments in recent years about unclaimed money have helped return almost $500,000 to viewers.