5 On Your Side

Remote work, fraud checks slow down NC's system of getting unclaimed cash to rightful owners

Posted September 28, 2020 1:29 p.m. EDT
Updated September 28, 2020 6:25 p.m. EDT

— Where’s the money?

A viewer contacted 5 On Your Side with that question, after what she considered a long wait with the state’s unclaimed cash fund.

The fund has $798 million in cash and items like jewelry, military medals, even an antique gun, all left behind in safety deposit boxes and waiting to be returned to North Carolinians.

Most of the money was somehow lost through wages, utility deposits, even insurance policies.

Earlier this year, Debbie Harris and her husband found out they’re owed about $130 from a canceled insurance policy.

She emailed Monica Laliberte saying she "…sent in all her forms in March, but still hasn’t received her payment even though the state gives a time frame of 90 to 120 days.

5 On Your Side talked with North Carolina Treasurer Dale Folwell about the delays and what’s being done to speed things up.

"We are doing almost all our processes remotely, which is far different than what it was in a pre-COVID," said Folwell.

The treasurer says while that’s causing delays, the bigger issue is they’re flooded with claims.

Almost 30,000 claims have been paid since March, an increase of 81% over last year.

Folwell says it takes time to make sure claims are legitimate.

"We have a responsibility to do things correctly, not just quickly, to make sure that the money that we’re sending out is not going to somebody fraudulently," he said.

Folwell admits 4,370 claims have exceeded the 120-day time frame.

The good news, he expects added staff and a new computer system, NC Cash’s first upgrade in 30 years, will speed up the process.

For Debbie Harris the news is even better.

After our inquiry into her case, she got her check.

And Folwell says another change, happening in October, will help others in her situation.

The Treasurer’s Office will launch a new program where they will automatically send unclaimed money to owners, if it’s $250 or less.

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