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Forgotten money is found money

The state comptroller's office is sitting on $11 billion in forgotten money. In the time it takes to change your Facebook status, you could find out whether some of it belongs to you.

There are literally billions of dollars in unclaimed funds just sitting in government coffers, waiting to be found.

Businesses such as banks and insurance companies are required by law to surrender money in inactive accounts to the state. Whether it's a security deposit for an apartment or money left in a PayPal account, the state holds it until it's claimed.

Just visit www.osc.state.ny.us/ouf, click "Search for lost money" and enter your last name into the search box. If you're owed money, your name will pop up on a list along with the company that surrendered it. Then the site will tell you how to claim your funds either online or by mail.

You can also call the state's unclaimed funds office at (800) 221-9311.

The Department of the Treasury has 25,000 undeliverable treasury bonds returned to its offices every year. Visit www.treasuryhunt.gov, then scroll down and click on the blue "start search" button, where you'll be prompted to enter your Social Security number.

The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. has unclaimed money, too. You could be due an annuity, bank funds or other benefits. Visit the PBGC's website to search your name or call (800) 400-7242.

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. is also looking for the owners of money orphaned when banks failed. Scroll down and search your name at www2.fdic.gov/funds.

Personal finance magazine Kiplinger's September issue offers some great tips on searching for lost assets.

Kiplinger suggests searching in multiple states, starting with ones where you've lived or worked. You can search state websites at www.unclaimed.org or at www.MissingMoney.com.

If a bank doesn't have your correct address, it surrenders the money to whatever state it's incorporated in, which is often Delaware. So check there, too.

Be sure to search maiden names, married names and common misspellings of your name. Money in the name of a deceased person would typically be released to that person's beneficiaries, so you can also search under the names of deceased parents, spouses and grandparents.

It's free to search the databases and to claim funds. Links to the sites are available in the Strictly Business blog at www.buffalonews.com.

The sums are often small -- more than 60 percent are $100 or less. But in 2008, someone claimed $4 million. And the state is still looking for the owner of a $1.7 million account.

Could it be you?

email: schristmann@buffnews.com or call MoneySmart at 849-4612. Follow the Diva at www.Facebook.com/DiscountDiva

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