Nothing in life is free and money doesn’t grow on trees, which is why finding your lost money should be next on your to-do list. Most New Yorkers don’t realize they have lost money, so they never seek to find it, but New York is home to $18.4 billion in unclaimed funds. This pot of money is overseen by New York State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli, and every day his office returns over $1.5 million to New Yorkers.
“My office makes every effort to connect New Yorkers with their lost money,” DiNapoli said. “By joining and holding events across the state we can help individuals, companies, nonprofits and municipalities check for unclaimed funds and get their money back to them quickly and easily. To date, over $223 million has been returned this year, and we hope to help more New Yorkers.”
Need to make a home repair? Overdue on some bills? Need extra spending cash? It’s easy and free to check if you have unclaimed funds online, by phone, or by mail or you can stop by one of the comptroller’s outreach events. All you need is your name and address. If searching for a claim online, you can filter it by the city and look for your current address or any previous addresses where you have lived. If calling by phone, try toll-free number, (800) 221-9311, Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m. The comptroller’s office recommends also searching for elderly or deceased relatives or by an organization or business name.
Where do unclaimed funds come from? Surprisingly, old bank accounts, uncashed checks, inactive stocks, lost tax refunds, estate proceeds, utility or security deposits, or even unused gift cards. Banks, insurance companies, corporations and the courts are among the many organizations required by law to report dormant accounts to the comptroller. They must attempt to notify you by mail or even publish the information in newspapers, but despite these efforts, many funds remain unclaimed and are turned over to the comptroller.
How much could I get back? The average claim amount is about $50, but don’t let that deter you. In 2023, heirs to a New York estate received $5.9 million in estate proceeds, and currently there is an unclaimed fund of $9.2 million from an estate fund still pending. Plus, unclaimed funds do not expire, which means they can be claimed at any time through the New York State Comptroller’s office.
When I did a search for unclaimed funds by region and country, I was surprised that Kings County had one of the highest amounts of unclaimed funds, reaching 1,414,374 accounts totaling $960,247,465 in value. However, the Comptroller has returned more funds to New York City than any other part of the state, and Kings County ranks second in the state for 23,476 accounts paid, totaling over $30.1 million during the state’s 2021-2022 fiscal year.
Comptroller DiNapoli takes the responsibility of returning unclaimed funds very seriously. New York leads the nation in reuniting people with their hard-earned cash, returning $404 million in the 2021-2022 fiscal year, more than Florida or California. Contributing to the Comptroller’s success, a team solely dedicated to unclaimed funds, an easy-to-use online platform, outreach events across the state, awareness campaigns, mailers to new reported owners of unclaimed funds and opportunities to get the word out.
In fact, Comptroller DiNapoli’s efforts were highlighted on ABC’s Good Morning America, where he presented nearly $50,000 to Donors Choose, a nonprofit dedicated to uplifting public schools across the country. The funds were left to the organization by a person who passed away and helped support over 150 projects focused on teaching children about the outdoors or gardening. Two New York City teachers at the Fairmont Neighborhood School in The Bronx were able to benefit.
In January, the Comptroller held two unclaimed funds events in Brooklyn. One at the Cypress Hills Library and one at the Brookdale Senior Center. Last year, the Comptroller joined Brooklyn Borough President Antonio Reynoso to encourage Brooklynites to check for unclaimed funds.
The office announces new events across the state each month if you would like assistance, checking for unclaimed funds. For more details, the schedule can be found here.
“Outreach events are added all the time, and the Comptroller’s website is updated monthly,” said Kelly Kuracina, Assistant Bureau Director at the Comptroller’s Office of Unclaimed Funds. “We encourage groups and organizations to reach out to the Comptroller’s office to request our participation at local community events.”
Kuracina adds there has been a spike in claimants with the number of claims rising from 430,000 in state fiscal year 2021-22 to 690,000 in 2022-23.
The Comptroller’s office reminds New Yorkers they will never be charged a fee to file or receive a claim.