PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — More than 1,000 small businesses and nonprofits across Rhode Island can expect a check in the mail as early as this week.
R.I. General Treasurer Seth Magaziner announced Thursday the state is expanding its Unclaimed Property Program.
“It’s not just people that can have missing money, it’s small businesses and nonprofits also,” Magaziner said. “We are one of the first to largely automate the process, that many people and now many businesses get checks in the mail automatically without needing to fill out any paperwork.”
Apsara Asian Restaurant in Providence is one of the state’s small businesses that will be receiving money from the program.
“We were so excited and so happy about it, it’s a big help to us at this time right now,” Manager Kim Te said. “It’s not the time to make a lot of money, it’s the time to survive.”
Te said when she first learned the news, she was unsure it was real.
“We was scared, we thought it was a scam or something,” she explained.
Magaziner said since he entered office in 2015, more than 100,000 Rhode Islanders have been reunited with more than $70 million in unclaimed property.
He said across the current system, more than $300 million is still in flux, with $1 million of that in unclaimed business and nonprofit property.
“It might be an old bank account that you forgot about, it might be an insurance claim that you were owed, but that never made it to the right place,” he said.
Magaziner said the state had already planned to add businesses and nonprofits to the program, but the pandemic helped to add an additional sense of urgency.
“The average size of these checks is more than $600, and many run well into the thousands and even the tens of thousands,” he said.
“It’s a tough time, you know,” State Unclaimed Property Director Lammis Vargas added. “We’re going through a pandemic, every penny that goes back into your pocket is extremely important.”
Magaziner said it’s a complex process to return the money back to its rightful owners.
“We take the unclaimed property list and we watch it from other lists from other state agencies,” he said.
Magaziner is encouraging those who don’t receive a check, to visit the Find RI Money website.
If you do receive a check in the mail and, like Te, are concerned it’s a scheme, you can reach a representative by calling (401) 462-7676.