The Critical 'I'

Read. React. Repeat.

Sunday, November 30, 2003

I got me a holiday miracle, a little ahead of schedule, to the tune of $351.26. That's the amount of unclaimed property from the state of Florida that I had coming to me, and finally got months after first making a claim.

I searched the site with the first few letters of my last name, just on a lark. I didn't find my exact last name, but dig it: One of the results did come up with a last name really close to mine, off by a couple of letters, with my first name, and my city of residence. I dug further, and saw that the street address connected to the account was my old address from some six or seven years ago. There was no information on what kind of property it was, so I was instantly curious. I went ahead and submitted my claim.

This being government bureaucracy, the process I set in motion would take many, many weeks. Most infuriating, after the initial contact, it all had to take place through postal mail--argh! Long story short, I had to provide some proof that I really was who I said I was, which, since they had a misspelled name on their files, wasn't quite as easy as it would seem. Plus, because I no longer live at the address I have on file, and haven't for several years, I couldn't come up with any proof of my former residence (I got no cooperation from my former landlords at the old address, fucking schmucks). After a couple of phone calls and false starts, I finally submitted my claim along with a note that stated that, while I had no tangible evidence of my former residence, it was fairly obvious that the misspelled name was me, since my name is unusual enough that there was slim chance it was someone else with such similar first and last names. I basically washed my hands of it after that, and figured that if they accepted that, I would get a nice little surprise at some point; and if not, I gave it my best shot. Happily, I got my surprise.

How did I miss that money all those years ago? I'm not sure. I think I was probably in the middle of moving and starting a new job, and just forgot about a stray paycheck. It's harder to figure how my name could have been misspelled on that paycheck and not on the previous ones I had gotten from the same place. In any case, the funds got mislaid. I'm glad these things do revert to the state, and are kept on file for so many years.

In the grand scheme, 350 bucks isn't a huge amount, and if it were, say, half that, I'm not sure I would have bothered to go to the trouble I did for this. (On the other hand, if it were $500, or a grand or two, I would have really driven to the hoop a lot harder to make sure I got it.) But hey, found money is found money, and I'll take it. Just in time to throw onto the holiday shopping pile, too!

So, let this be a lesson to you: Take a gander at your state's unclaimed property list. Odds are pretty good that it's searchable online. Take a few minutes to search by a couple of variations of your name, or just using the first couple of letters of your last name; if I hadn't done that, I never would have found my claim. There could be something of value waiting for you in your state's capital!

As for me, all I need now is that $12.63 worth of CD class-action suit money and I'll be all set, baby.