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Unclaimed Property
Frequently Asked Questions
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Photo By Cheryl Gladden - 2007 Latino Business Fair
 
Click here for specific questions related to claiming your money.

GENERAL QUESTIONS
 
What is unclaimed property?
Unclaimed property is any financial asset, usually intangible, being held for a person or entity that cannot be found. It is not real estate, abandoned personal property, or lost and found items.
 
Unclaimed property includes savings accounts, checking accounts, unpaid wages or commissions, stocks, dividends proceeds, refunds, money orders, paid-up life insurance policies, utility deposits and contents of safe deposit boxes.
 
Is anything involved besides money?
Yes. The contents of safe deposit boxes as well as other intangible assets not specifically mentioned in the statute, such as stock and bonds are reportable as unclaimed property. Items from safe deposit boxes that have commercial value are held by the Department of State Lands for at least one year before being sold at an oral, public auction. The proceeds from the sale are available for claim by owners.
 
How does property become unclaimed?
In accordance with individual state laws, property becomes abandoned or unclaimed if the owner cannot be contacted by the business or entity holding the asset (the “holder”) within a specified period of time, generally three years. (Please refer to the matrix for specific property dormancy periods.)
 
What attempts are made to find the rightful owners?
For amounts greater than $100, the holder must make a reasonable effort to locate the owner before turning the asset over to the Department. If the holder is unsuccessful, it must report the names and last-known addresses of the owners to the Department. The Department attempts to locate the owner in various ways.
 
What is a finder?
A finder, sometimes known as an heir-finder, heir-searcher or researcher, is an individual who attempts to reunite owners with their unclaimed assets for a fee. Fees and procedures vary considerably. The Department is aware of many finders working throughout the United States and Canada. In Oregon, a finder must be licensed to locate owners of unclaimed property. Before signing an agreement or contract, be sure the Department of Public Safety Standards and Training has issued a license to the finder. Do not pay an advance fee for research services; you can search Oregon´s unclaimed property database online, or print an owner inquiry form and mail it to the Department. Staff will search for your name at no cost.
 
What does the state do with this money?
Unclaimed property proceeds are held in the Common School Fund (CSF), a constitutional fund dedicated to benefit Oregon´s K-12 public schools. The reported amount is available for claim by the owner or heir(s) forever.
 
How much money is involved?
The Department receives about $50 million in unclaimed property each year and returns about $15 million to owners.
 



CLAIM-RELATED QUESTIONS
 
How can I claim my property?
If you find your name on Oregon´s online database, print an owner inquiry form and mail it to us with the supporting documentation listed on the form.
 
Once unclaimed property is reported to the Department, there is no time limit to reclaim your funds.
 
I found  and printed several claim inquiries I want to submit.  May I send them together in one envelope with only one set of the proof requested? Also, do I have to notarize each inquiry form?
 
You may submit all the claim forms in one envelope. You do not need to send multiple copies of the same proof - such as your photo identification.  You should sign all of the claim inquiries but you only need to notarize the top one. 
 
I’ve lived at my current address for many years. Why does the state have my money?
Holders are required by law to make an effort to contact owners if they believe the property is unclaimed. (This usually occurs when there has been no owner activity or contact after a certain period time, generally three years.) There are many reasons why this communication fails – an incomplete address, a lost piece of correspondence, an error in the holder’s records are all typical examples. In addition, if the property value is less than $100, the reporting company is not required to notify owners before reporting it as unclaimed.
 
I know I have unclaimed property, but I checked the owner search and I do not see my name.
If your property was recently reported, we may still be processing it. We update the database each week, so please check back regularly.
 
If you prefer, you may submit an owner inquiry form and we will match it up once the information has been processed. To access the form, click here. Complete the form and mail it, with the requested documentation, to the address listed on the form.
 
I submitted my claim inquiry some time ago. When will I receive my money?
We review inquiries in the order received. Due to the large volume of inquiries we are receiving, you can expect to hear from us within 90 - 120 days from the date you mailed the inquiry. Response and confirmation will be sent by mail or email.
 
You are asking for sensitive, personal information. How do I know you will keep it secure?
Only claims processing staff handle your information. Your privacy is our highest priority, and staff are trained in procedures to ensure all personal information is safeguarded.
 
What do I do if I don’t have anything with my previous address on it?
You may submit written confirmation that you lived at the reported address. Please provide the approximate time frame you lived at that address.
 
If my name has changed, how do I prove that?
Please submit documents such as a marriage certificate or other court documents including a divorce decree to show any name changes.
 
Why do I have to submit a notarized signature?
Your notarized signature is required to ensure that the proper person has signed the inquiry form and that the refund is paid to the rightful owner.
 
Where do I find a notary?
Many public agencies have staff that will notarize documents for free or for a small fee. You may also check with your financial institution, investment firm, or insurance company.
 
I am heir of the person listed. How do I know if I can claim this property?
The closest heirs of the decedent or those heirs listed in a probate proceeding are entitled to claim the asset. Send a copy of a death certificate or will. If a probate proceeding is currently being administered or is “open,” send court-certified copies of the letters of administration or affidavit of claiming successor also known as a small estates affidavit to support your claim to the asset of the decedent. If the probate proceeding is done or “closed,” send a court-certified copy of the final decree of distribution or final order listing the heirs entitled to the decedent’s assets.
 
Personal papers and photographs from safe deposit boxes are stored for 5 years before being destroyed. (Personal property that has been purposely abandoned by its owner, such as vehicles, appliances or personal possessions, is not included in this statute. Check ORS 87.152 for information about disposing of personal or tangible property abandoned by its owner.)
 
What if my property involves a security or investment?
You must surrender original stock certificates, or a surety bond may be required if the asset you are claiming involves a corporate action such as a merger or buy-out. Stock and mutual funds are liquidated on a specific schedule, so you may be entitled only to sale proceeds.
 
What if my property involves a negotiable instrument?
If the claim is for a negotiable instrument such as a cashier’s check, the payee is favored unless the purchaser still possesses the instrument. For values in excess of $2,500, an indemnity bond will be required if you do not have the check.
 
The property description lists “warrant.” What is a warrant?
A warrant is similar to a check. Many state agencies issue warrants. A general definition is "a promise to pay as long as the state has funds." An example would be a state court issuing a warrant to pay you for jury duty.