The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania has $4 billion in other people’s money sitting in its coffers. State Treasurer Stacy Garrity wants to do something unusual with it.
She wants the government to give it back.
The state has created a “Money Match” program that would “automate the process of returning unclaimed property to rightful owners.”
“One of my top priorities has always been to return as much unclaimed property as possible to rightful owners,” Garrity told DVJournal.
“This is not our money; it belongs to hard-working Pennsylvanians,” she said. “Money Match will get more money to Pennsylvanians faster than ever before without any action by the person themselves.”
“It actually removes red tape – which is unheard of in government.”
The Treasury said “unclaimed property” includes things like dormant bank accounts, claims payments, accounts payable, uncashed checks, insurance policies, contents of forgotten safe deposit boxes, and more.
The state requires businesses to report funds of those types if they’ve laid dormant in accounts for three years. There has been a surge in unclaimed property flowing into Pennsylvania’s coffers recently, from $343 million in 2020 to $417 million last year.
The government is holding over $4 billion in unclaimed funds.
Normally, Pennsylvania residents must go through a lengthy process to recover any money that has ended up in the unclaimed account. The Money Match program will allow them to reclaim those funds after the state confirms their identity.
The measure will only apply to funds in amounts below $5,000. Any unclaimed money over that amount must follow the earlier, lengthier reclamation procedure.
The Treasury told DVJ that over 95 percent of unclaimed funds are less than $5,000.
The bill received backing from multiple state senators, including the Delaware Valley’s John Kane and Frank Farry, and has strong bipartisan support. It passed the GOP-controlled Senate unanimously. It currently sits in the House Finance Committee.
The state says 10 percent of Pennsylvanians have unclaimed property in the government’s coffers. Some residents use property recovery professionals to help return their funds. The Treasury stipulates that such individuals must “be certified as a finder by the Pennsylvania Treasury.”
The Treasury has held events to auction off unclaimed property in its holdings in the past.
Its most recent sale in April saw the auctioning of over 4,000 items, including “a 14K two-tone gold stick pin brooch with 2-carat diamond,” “multiple Engelhard 100 Troy ounce 999+ fine silver bars,” a gold George Melleze pocket watch, and “various comic books and magazines.”
Proceeds from the auction “will be carefully tracked,” Garrity said at the time, “and will always be available for the rightful owner to claim any time, even years or decades from now.”
On its website, the Treasury stresses it wishes to return the funds to their rightful owners as quickly as possible.
“Let’s be clear,” the department says, “this is YOUR money we’re talking about, and we don’t want to keep it.”