(Courtesy: Pennsylvania Treasury Administration) Treasury
(Courtesy: Pennsylvania Treasury Administration)

The Pennsylvania Treasury Department has more than $4 billion in unclaimed property including funds from dormant bank accounts, abandoned stocks, uncashed checks, jewelry, medals, and more.

Did you know that you could be owed money or property and not even know it?

One in 10 Pennsylvanians is owed unclaimed property and the average claim is worth about $1,500. 

The state Treasury Department currently has more than $4 billion in unclaimed property. Last year, the department returned more than $135 million in property and 299 military decorations and memorabilia, including two Purple Hearts and one Bronze Star.

“One of my top priorities is getting unclaimed property back to the hardworking Pennsylvanians it belongs to,” state Treasurer Stacy Garrity said. “A lot of people have funds waiting to be claimed, or they may know someone who does.”

What Is Unclaimed Property?

Unclaimed property is any asset that is considered abandoned or dormant.

After a designated period of time — in Pennsylvania, it’s three years — with no activity or contact, the property becomes “unclaimed” and must be turned over to the state.

Some common forms of unclaimed property include:

  • Checking or savings accounts
  • Stocks
  • Uncashed dividends or payroll checks
  • Trust distributions
  • Customer overpayments
  • Utility security deposits
  • Contents of safe deposit boxes

Tangible property is held in the Treasury’s vault and includes items like collectible coins, jewelry, military medals, stamps, and antiques. These physical assets come from abandoned safe deposit boxes, evidence from police departments, and other institutions such as colleges, hospitals, and nursing homes. 

Physical property is held for three years and then auctioned due to limited storage space. The money received from the sale is held by the state until claimed. Military decorations and memorabilia are never auctioned.

How Do I Find Out If I Have Unclaimed Property?

It’s easy.

Go to the Treasury Department’s Unclaimed Property page and search the database.

“We recommend folks try multiple variations of their name when searching (I.e: Michael, Mike, etc.),” treasury spokesperson Samantha Heckel said. “Businesses can also have unclaimed property waiting and can search the same database.”

Heckel said if someone finds they do have unclaimed property, they will need to fill out some forms and, depending on the amount, present some documentation. The site will take anyone with unclaimed property through the whole process.

How Do I Keep My Property From Ending Up at the Treasury in the First Place?

To help ensure your property doesn’t go unclaimed or inactive in the future, Heckel said residents should do the following:

  • Communicate with your financial institution at least once every three years.
  • Inform your financial institution and insurers of any address changes.
  • Don’t wait to cash any checks you receive.
  • Keep your information up-to-date with any bank, insurance company, or stock broker you work with.
  • Let a family member or trusted advisor know where you keep your financial records.