Avoid fraud when searching for unclaimed funds

This week is International Fraud Awareness Week, a time to promote awareness and anti-fraud education to minimize the impact of fraud. Many scams involve Ohioans receiving unsolicited or texts from people claiming to help Ohioans recover their unclaimed money and property.

When Ohioans have checks that go uncashed or accounts that go dormant for whatever the reason, it is eventually turned over to the state and held by the Ohio Department of Commerce Division of Unclaimed Funds. This information can be found by entering a person’s name at www.missingmoney.com.

If a person has unclaimed funds, then the results will populate with their name and last known address. The claimant may complete and submit a claim to begin the process of claiming these funds or reach out to the division.

It is common knowledge that criminals often try to scam people out of money that they own, but it takes an insidious criminal to attempt to steal money you don’t even know you have yet. Scammers who may already have name or contact information, will make contact to obtain more personal information. Additionally, a scammer may pose as a “finder” and illegally request money for services and/or information regarding your unclaimed funds. It is important to know that the division does register individuals to assist in the recovery of unclaimed funds.

“The best thing you can do if you get a call from a “finder” is to ask for their registration number, and call the Division of Unclaimed Funds directly,” said Akil Hardy, Superintendent of the Division of Unclaimed Funds. “We have a list of nearly 40 finders who are registered with the state and can assist with recovery if needed.”

One red flag that your “finder” might be a fraud is if they attempt to charge exorbitant prices for their help. Registered finders are not allowed to charge more than a 10% fee, though the process to file a claim for unclaimed funds through the division is always free. Anyone who has located what they believe to be their unclaimed funds can file a claim or call the division for more information free of charge.

“The best way to avoid becoming a target is to check and see if you have any money in your name, and if so, claim it,” continued Hardy.

Other common precautions that can also help keep you safe include guarding your Social Security number, account information or any other personal identifiable information when visiting unfamiliar sites that are separate from our division. Be cautious when entering it into websites or providing information over the phone.

For more information about unclaimed funds in Ohio, visit com.ohio.gov/unfd/.