Unclaimed property could spell relief for COVID-stressed Floridians

©Sun Sentinel

More people are applying for unclaimed funds from the state of Florida to get through COVID-19 financial troubles.

Millions in bank accounts, inheritances, refunds and other property are all waiting to be retrieved by Florida residents at the state Department of Financial Services — if they would only file a claim, says Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Petronis.

He said the agency he oversees has distributed $124 million in property to their owners since the pandemic hit in March.

“We pushed out over $38 million just in the month of March. That’s the second highest month in the history of the program,” Patronis told The Associated Press. “Just during the COVID-19 pandemic time, we’ve pushed out almost $124 million. That’s $124 million that’s going back into the economy.”

Unclaimed property is awaiting a number of prominent citizens from politics to sports, according to a state website:

President Donald Trump has $354.69 in checks waiting for him that FedEx unsuccessfully tried to deliver to his Mar-a-Largo estate in Palm Beach.

U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio is owed money by the Florida Department of Transportation for an overpayment in highway tolls.

Miami Marlins co-owner Derek Jeter has yet to claim money from a life insurance company.

“One in five Floridians has unclaimed funds from a forgotten financial account,” according to the home page of the website FlTreasureHunt.gov.

That’s where residents can go to stake their claims through a return program that has been in place for years. At various points in time, the state has served as custodian for up to $1 billion in old checks, jewelry, the contents of safe deposit boxes and other valuables,

So every year, Petronis and his predecessors have issued public reminders to go hunting for “treasure.” There are times, however, when the state has auctioned off property after no one stepped forward to claim it.

There is no need to pay someone else to track down your money. You can stake your claim for free, the treasure hunt website says.

Last year, the state returned $323 million to Floridians, and that’s when the economy was humming.

The website is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Although the agency’s employees are working from home, they’re available to answer questions via FloridaUnclaimedProperty@MyFloridaCFO.com.


©2020 Sun Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.)