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Md. looking for claims to millions in assets

April 01, 1997

By KERRY LYNN FRALEY

Staff Writer

It's probably not illegal, but the businesses offering to sell information on claiming unclaimed assets are definitely misleading, said Maryland treasury officials.

You don't need to pay anybody anything to find out if you have money coming to you.

The state of Maryland is trying hard to give away $68 million to its rightful owners, said Maryland Assistant State Comptroller Marvin A. Bond.

Most of the money comes from idle bank accounts, utility deposits, unclaimed paychecks, insurance deposits, safe deposit box contents and insurance benefits, Bond said.

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The pool has been growing since the mid-1960s, when Maryland and most other states passed laws aimed at returning unclaimed money to its owners after a certain number of years, usually five, he said.

The state actually goes to great lengths to try to track down the account holders by searching tax records and other Maryland agencies' databases to find current addresses and notify them, Bond said.

To try to reach people who've moved and heirs of the deceased, the Maryland State Comptroller's office twice a year prints a million copies of a full-size newspaper insert listing between 12,000 and 17,000 names of the most recently reported account holders.

The office began publicizing the names of 13,000 individuals and businesses on March 25.

The inserts will appear in 25 newspapers across the state through Thursday, he said.

For the first time this year, Bond said, the names are also being published on the State Comptroller's office Web site: (http://www.comp.state.md.us).

If the property remains unclaimed past 65 days after the ads run, it is turned over to the state. There's no statute of limitations on collecting.

By filling out a simple form and showing some sort of proof of ownership, the rightful owner or, in the event of their death, a legitimate heir can claim that money from the state at any time, he said.

If your name isn't on the list, you could still be due some money, said Bond, who said the average claim last year was $1,000.

To find out if you are owed money or for claim information, call 1-800-782-7383 between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m.

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