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W.Va. treasurer seeks unclaimed property owners

Intelligencer/Wheeling News-Register photo by Joselyn King Jennifer Coyne, right, regional marketing manager for the West Virginia Treasurer’s Office, assists Ohio County Public Library employee Gail Bender with a computer search to see if any unclaimed property is listed.
Intelligencer/Wheeling News-Register photo by Joselyn King
Jennifer Coyne, right, regional marketing manager for the West Virginia Treasurer’s Office, assists Ohio County Public Library employee Gail Bender with a computer search to see if any unclaimed property is listed.

WHEELING, W.Va. — When a representative of the West Virginia Treasurer’s Office contacts a person to tell them they have hundreds of dollars awaiting them in unclaimed property funds, all too often the person believes they are being scammed.

But the Unclaimed Property List in West Virginia is real, and there are more than 350,000 postings on the list, according to Jennifer Coyne, regional marketing manager for the West Virginia Treasurer’s Office in Wheeling. Some of the listings date back to the 1930s.

Unclaimed property most often comes in the form of abandoned bank accounts, forgotten insurance policies or undelivered refund checks that have never reached their intended recipient. It can be a $40,000 dividend from a stock a couple purchased when they first married 60 years ago, or a $55 check for an overpayment on an auto loan.

Too often, the intended recipient moves with no forwarding address, or they pass away and their descendents know nothing of the money that was due them.

Banks also turn over safe deposit boxes to the State Treasurer’s Office that haven’t been opened for years. Sometimes the contents are auctioned off by the office, and the proceeds are held for the rightful owner.

Coyne takes her computer with her to many senior events and gatherings, hoping the seniors will feel comfortable enough to come to her to see if any money awaits them. She hopes as more and more find success and small fortune, they will tell others the program is legitimate and their name may also be on the list.

The next step is getting these people to want to claim their property, as Coyne said many fear the process of doing the needed paperwork.

“It’s not a lot of work, it’s a just one page application,” she said. “It’s so simple, but people don’t want to do the paperwork. They don’t even want their money.”

The claim form asks the applicant to list their name, current mailing address, phone number and Social Security number. Coyne acknowledges many people are hesitant to provide such information.

Still, there can be some financial gain for those who follow through with obtaining their property. The list of unclaimed property in West Virginia can be found at wvsto.com.

Checks for smaller amounts can be mailed to the recipients, while those for more than $2,000 are presented to them in person at an arranged meeting.

“It would be crazy to send them a check in the mail,” Coyne said. “That’s how it got lost to start with.”

The public is invited to visit the State Treasurer’s Office in Wheeling in person if they wish to learn more about unclaimed property in the state that could be theirs. The office is located in the Main Street Bank building at 2001 Main St., Suite 203.

Coyne can also be contacted at 304-232-4778.

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