“It’s your money, and we want you to get it back.”
— Susan Combs, Texas Comptroller
It was the Comptroller’s annual “siren song.” So alluring. So tempting.
“One in four Texans has unclaimed property from forgotten bank accounts, uncashed checks, security deposits and utility refunds. It’s your money, and we want you to get it back. There is currently about $3 billion in property that has not been claimed and approximately $800 million in shared property that has been partially claimed and paid to some of the owners. It’s never too late to make a claim, and we are committed to ensuring hardworking Texans don’t lose a penny.”
Sounds good, and, yes, it’s true. People I know, relatives and folks I work with find their names on the list every year. But, not me. I’m too tight to forget about unclaimed cash for very long. So the David Berrys on the Comptroller’s list are usually the David Berry in Garland, Amarillo and Sweetwater.
But, hey, I check every year.
This year, I opened up the Comptroller’s Window on State Government website and hit the button to “Search Unclaimed Property.” I found more than four pages of David Berry from all over the state … and sure enough, I hit the jackpot.
There I was, David Berry, at my current address in Tyler. That was odd. They had my current address where I’ve lived for 18 years, so I wasn’t exactly lost. Forgotten, disregarded, pushed to the back of the stack maybe. … But not lost.
I dutifully filled out the information requested to make my claim, hit a few buttons and waited to see how much the Comptroller was holding for me.
I was assigned a claim number. Here it comes. ... What was the big jackpot? Who owed me money and how much?
Seems my old friend Sallie Mae loaned me a lot of money to put my daughters through school. They both graduated in the ’90s, and that last note was paid in full in 2009. It said all that right there on the Comptroller’s “Texas Unclaimed Property Original Owner Claim Form.” But there is still an “accounts receivable credit balance” on that account, and they owe me.
As in two one-hundredths of a dollar. Two cents.
I thought maybe I could hit a button and they would send me my two cents. It did say no further action was necessary and I would receive my reward in 15 to 20 business days. However, in reading further, I realized that to complete my claim I must submit an “Original Owner Claim” that would include a copy of my photo ID, proof of Social Security number and documentation from “your own files proving that the reporting property owner lived at the reported property address.”
Since Forever Stamps now cost what … 46 cents, it would cost 23 times the amount of my reward to claim it.
Here’s my two cents worth. Sallie Mae, you can keep the money.
Dave Berry is editor of the Tyler Morning Telegraph. Next week, we’ll talk about coyote calling on a cold winter night. Thanks for reading.