PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Keith Cardoza just found out he was missing more than $300.
“I didn’t know I was owed any money,” he said. “I was excited!”
Cardoza is one of about 35,000 Rhode Islanders who will soon receive a check in the mail from the officer of General Treasurer Seth Magaziner.
The checks that will be sent total approximately $10 million in unclaimed property, according to Magaziner, and the average check is worth about $250.
“It’s your money!” he said at a news conference Monday morning. “There are thousands of Rhode Islanders who are owed money by companies, banks, insurance companies, utility companies, but that money never makes it to the rightful owners.”
“For many of them, they probably don’t even know that they were missing this money,” Magaziner added.
Legislation passed over the summer paved the way for the new program, called “Your Money.” Using state databases, the program matches unclaimed property with a person’s address so the money can be returned automatically.
“Until now, we’ve have a very old-fashioned approach toward reuniting people with their missing money,” Magaziner explained. “If you were missing money, you’d have to call our office or go onto our website and do a search and then submit claim forms, and it was a very, at times, cumbersome process.”
“We’ve taken the unclaimed property program and we have modernized it so it’s easier to get Rhode Islanders back the money that is owed to them,” he said.
According to data from the treasurer’s office, about one in five Rhode Islanders have unclaimed property.
“Every year, we take in an average of about $20 million of new unclaimed property,” Magaziner said. “So from here on out, as new unclaimed property comes in, we’re going to automatically be running this same process and getting it out to people faster.”
Cardoza said he plans to donate his newfound money to cover Thanksgivings meals for families in need.
“It just seemed like going with the theme of the holiday, it was the right thing to do,” he said.
Though thousands of checks will be sent automatically, Magaziner is encouraging Rhode Islanders to search for unclaimed property online.
Are you owed any money?Search the Unclaimed Property Database »