It's not often that the city wants to give you back money.
But that is in fact the case with more than $300,000 the city treasurer's office has identified as unclaimed property owed to residents. How did that happen? In most cases, those individuals never collected on small refunds they were due from the city.
Mayor Ted Bettencourt announced earlier this week that a list was published on the city's website of thousands of individuals and businesses within Peabody who may be entitled to abandoned property held in the city's treasury.
“I recommend that all Peabody residents and business owners check the Unclaimed Property list,” said Bettencourt. “I am committed to returning these funds to their rightful owners and we have streamlined the process to make it as simple and convenient as possible.”
City Treasurer Jean Carnevale tells the Salem News that most accounts are only for a few dollars, although some individuals are owed more than $100. She said people owed larger debts are usually tracked down.
Carnevale explained that in many cases, residents have just moved from the address the city has on file and the refund checks were returned to her office.
Anyone whose name appears on the Unclaimed Property list can find out more information about their property by contacting the treasurer's office. In order to retrieve the money, you have to submit a claim form with a valid signature and mailing address. Expect up to eight weeks for checks to be disbursed.
Carnevale originally posted a notice Sept. 7; under state law, any money that is not claimed within 60 days of that date goes back to the city treasury permanently, although Carnevale said the city would advertise any larger claims in local news outlets.
State treasury has more than $60M unclaimed
The city is taking advantage of a new state law that allows the Unclaimed Property list to be publicly posted and which also follows efforts by the Massachusetts State Treasury to do the same thing.
The state's treasury office has identified more than $60 million in unclaimed property that is owed to hundreds of thousands of individuals, charities and businesses. Just in the last six months, thousands more names have been added to the list of people who are owed more than $100.
One in ten people in Massachusetts has unclaimed property in their name. Past individuals with claims have included Tom Brady, Steven Tyler, Chelsea Clinton, Governor Deval Patrick and Senator Scott Brown.
“This new list is just the tip of the iceberg," said Treasurer Steven Grossman. “This is not the state’s money. It belongs to the citizens of the Commonwealth. We want to take every step possible to get unclaimed property back into the hands of its rightful owners.”
Unclaimed property includes forgotten savings and checking accounts, un-cashed checks, insurance policy proceeds, stocks, dividends, and contents of unattended safe deposit boxes. In addition to the latest $60 million that the Treasury identified over the last six months, the Commonwealth is holding over $2 billion in trust until rightful owners can be identified.
The most up-to-date unclaimed property list was published in the Boston Globe on Sept. 9 and will be in the Boston Herald on Sept. 16. The list of names will also be published in 37 regional newspapers between Sept. 26 and Sept. 28.
If you want to check out if you're one of the lucky Massachusetts residents owed money, go to www.findmassmoney.com or call 888-344-6277. There is no time limit to claim property.