County residents owed millions

More than 20,000 Shelby County residents are owed money, and most don’t even know it.

Alabama Treasurer Kay Ivey recently announced that 20,700 county residents are due money. Added together, the unclaimed funds total more than $5.5 million.

The backlog is so bad, Ivey declared August “Unclaimed Property Awareness Month,” encouraging all Alabamians to check and see if they are entitled to part of the pie.

“So much hard work goes into collecting these funds,” Ivey said. “All the hard work is worthwhile when owners are located and are able to connect with their assets.”

Unclaimed property generally comes from uncashed checks, stocks and bonds but can also include things like utility deposits.

“After a business has held unclaimed property for a number of years set by law, they turn it over to the state treasury,” Ivey said. “We hold it until individuals come forward to claim it.”

Individuals and businesses are listed on a state database, along with how much money is owed and by whom.

Even other government agencies, like the Shelby County Commission and the Board of Education, are due money.

So far in 2008, the state has received more than $52 million in unclaimed property. Of that amount, only $19 million has been put back into people’s pockets.

Last year, a record $23 million was paid out to almost 27,000 residents.

To see if you are owed money, search your name on the state database at www.treasury.alabama.gov.

Claims may be filed online or by calling the treasurer’s office at (888) 844-8400.

“We’ve got money that belongs to people in every nook and cranny in Alabama. We want to send checks to Pelham, Helena, Alabaster, Columbiana, Calera, Vincent and all over Shelby County,” Ivey said. “Go online or call us, and if you find your name and you can prove you are who you say you are, my staff and I would love to send you a check.”