Texas Rising March/April 2010

Taylor County Treasurer Lesa Crosswhite helps a local resident check the unclaimed property database during a two-day Comptroller’s Office Unclaimed Property Outreach event in November.

Finding Green
in Abilene

Taylor County residents jump at chance to make their claims

by David Bloom

When Taylor County Treasurer Lesa Crosswhite discovered the county government had more than $22,000 in unclaimed property, she asked the next question any good public servant should ask: “I wonder how many residents and businesses of the county also have money waiting for them?”

Comptroller Outreach

Unclaimed Property

$2 Billion Waiting
to be Claimed

Taylor County

In fiscal 2009, the Comptroller’s office returned a record $147 million in unclaimed property to Texans. One in four Texans has unclaimed property from forgotten bank accounts, uncashed checks, security deposits and utility refunds from the $2 billion the state is holding in their names.

Find out if you, your family or friends have unclaimed property by searching online or calling (800) 654-FIND.

Top Five Cities with Unclaimed Property

Fiscal 2009 Unclaimed Property (millions)
City Returned Available
Houston $22.8 $257.1
Dallas $11.9 $160.1
San Antonio $7 $73.5
Austin $7.4 $64.4
Fort Worth $2.9 $43.9

Source: Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts

The answer was more than 72,000, and the estimated total amount of money that the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts was holding for Taylor County individuals, companies and organizations was nearly $6.8 million.

So Crosswhite decided that the fastest way to get it back to Abilene and Taylor County would be to hold a two-day event where residents could search www.ClaimItTexas.org and file their paperwork on the spot with help from the Comptroller’s Unclaimed Property Outreach team.

The prospect of nearly $6.8 million for the men and women of Taylor County certainly attracted the attention of local media, who helped get out the word about the unclaimed property event. So when Crosswhite arrived at 7 a.m., there were already people waiting in line, and many brought with them the documentation needed to file their claims. That greatly expedited the process and allowed the Comptroller’s outreach team and Taylor County volunteers to give one-on-one service to hundreds of residents during the two days.

Crosswhite reports that while none of the local volunteers found any money for themselves, they “got back a lot more than dollars” by keeping the computers busy well past the scheduled closing times and helping reunite resources with people in particular need.

“There was one lady who told us that on her way to the event she prayed that she would find just $50 because she was in pretty dire straits,” Crosswhite says. “So when she learned that she had $93 in unclaimed property, she just started shaking and said that her prayer had been answered nearly two-fold.”

At the other end of the spectrum was a resident who discovered more than $28,500 in unclaimed property. In total, the two-day event generated claims for more than $123,000 that rightfully belonged to Taylor County residents. Further, it serves as a model for how other local taxing entities can partner with the Comptroller’s office to get the rest of the estimated $2 billion in unclaimed property back into the wallets and pocketbooks of Texans everywhere.

“Collaboration on a local level with partners in a community gives an added advantage to an unclaimed property search event,” says Amy Redmond, unclaimed property outreach specialist. “We appreciate local officials who volunteer their time and understand the benefits of returning unclaimed property to its rightful owner.” TR

Contact the Comptroller’s Unclaimed Property Outreach team at (800) 531-5441 ext. 3-4900 if you want to organize an unclaimed property event in your community.