Reporting John Shumway
HARRISBURG (KDKA) — If the thought has ever passed through your head, “if only I had ‘X’ thousand dollars I could…” then you can relate to Josh Camson’s reaction to finding out he had unexpected money just waiting for his call to a Pennsylvania Treasury case worker.
“She said, it’s like $17,000,” Camson excitedly recalled. “I said, ‘Are you kidding? Really!’ Cause she said it like it was no big deal; which to me, it was a pretty big deal.”
A new computer later, with money in the bank to help him open his own law firm, Camson finds it hard to believe people aren’t crashing the PaTreasury.gov website or calling Harrisburg looking for money.
Especially since another $200 million has arrived in Harrisburg since April 15. It’s forgotten money just waiting to be found.
As Camson emphatically says, “Call; definitely call. I mean, it’s a 1-800 number; although, I’m glad I didn’t call a few years ago because ‘College Josh’ would have not used it wisely.”
It turns out Camson’s money has been sitting for years amidst the $1.8 billion the state is holding in unclaimed money and property.
It was a bank account set up for him by his grandfather when Camson was born, and then forgotten about.
The funds came to the State Treasury as part of the annual reporting of unclaimed accounts, safety deposit boxes or seized property that banks, financial institutions, companies and police departments are required to turn over to the state on April 15 after the accounts have been abandoned for five years.
Pennsylvania Treasurer Rob McCord pushes his staff to reach out and find the rightful owners of the property, but sometimes that is a virtually impossible task.
Everything is listed on PATreasury.gov, and case workers act like detectives trying to find the owners; and it’s not just money.
In a glass, jewelry case in the Pennsylvania Vault, which is in the basement of the Treasury Building in Harrisburg, there is a 12-carat diamond solitaire ring. It is part of a jewelry collection that was abandoned in a PNC Bank safety deposit box registered under Best Metal Craft, Inc. of Pittsburgh.
Treasury employees say Best Metal has been out of business since the 1960s and the owners have long ago left this world. Somewhere out there, they believe there are grandchildren who own the jewelry but so far all efforts to find them have failed.
Soon the jewelry will be auctioned and the proceeds put in an account in the name of Best Metal Craft. Once there it will sit indefinitely.
Treasurer McCord says, “Last year, we returned about $16 million in money and property to the rightful owners.”
At the same time McCord adds, “We have unclaimed property which we will never know whose property it was, or it was illegally gathered by criminals. We take anything that we know will never be claimed and we sell it and that money goes into the general funds.”
To the tune of about $110 million each year. McCord proudly points out the program pays for itself three times over.
With the new influx of money and property that is still being processed it’s important to check for your name even if you did it last year.
Here is what you need to do: go to PaTreasury.gov and click on the Unclaimed Property section in the tool bar. Once there, just under the picture of the vault, you will see two blanks to enter your name. Fill in the spaces and hit submit.
Treasurer McCord says it’s important to search every possible way your name could have ended up on a document. Also search for companies, businesses and associations that you may have connections to.
If you find something to be claimed, the website will take you through the steps to file a claim.
If you do not have a computer, the case workers at PaTreasury.gov will do the search for you when you call 1-800-222-2046.