As Tennessee state treasurer, I am responsible for managing the state’s financial resources and serving Tennesseans as a leader in public financial stewardship. The Tennessee Department of Treasury administers services that vary from college savings, to claims against the state, to the state’s retirement plan. One program under Treasury that every Tennessee citizen should be aware of is unclaimed property.

Unclaimed property is money turned over to the state by businesses and organizations unable to locate rightful owners. The Unclaimed Property Division is a consumer protection program that works to reunite the millions of missing dollars turned over every year with rightful owners.

In Tennessee, unclaimed property primarily are intangible assets, such as utility refunds, uncashed paychecks, credit balances for overpayments, rental deposit refunds, gift certificates, securities, bank accounts, etc. Once businesses have turned over property, the Tennessee Treasury uses various proactive measures to locate the owners. Millions of dollars are turned over to the state each year by businesses.

There is more than $1.1 billion dollars waiting to be claimed in Tennessee, and $8,048,400 of this missing money is for individuals and businesses in Blount County. The Unclaimed Property Division has targeted its current outreach to help ensure East Tennesseans in Knoxville and surrounding areas know to search our online database for their unclaimed property at ClaimItTN.gov. Our website also includes a link to help you search for missing money in other states.

There is no time limit on claiming the property, and there is never a fee to claim it in Tennessee. Beware of any service asking you to pay them to help you get your money back. If you are ever contacted about unclaimed property in Tennessee and would like to check the validity, go to ClaimItTN.gov.

Last year, the Unclaimed Property Division returned more than 59,000 claims, totaling $62.5 million, to the rightful owners. More than 109,242 claims totaling more than $482,840 were returned to the citizens of Blount County.

I understand it may be difficult to believe that you might have overlooked a refund owed to you, or overpaid and have a credit balance in your name, or forgot to pick up your last paycheck at a job. The hundreds of thousands of names in our database show it happens quite often. This money belongs in Tennesseans’ bank accounts, and the easiest way to get it back to the rightful owners is for people to search our database for their names.

The Tennessee Department of Treasury is part of the legislative branch of Tennessee government. I would like to thank state Sen. Art Swann and state Reps. Jerome Moon and Bob Ramsey — all Maryville Republicans — for supporting the Unclaimed Property program, giving Treasury the ability to put money back into the hands of Tennesseans. The support of these legislators has allowed us to increase efficiency and return more money to your community.

Anyone can see if they are owed any missing money by searching their name at ClaimItTN.gov, and may file a claim online if they find unclaimed property belonging to them. As money is turned over each year, we recommend that you search the site at least once per year. I hope the readers of The Daily Times take a moment to check their names today.

David Lillard is the Tennessee state treasurer.

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