Call Kurtis Investigates: Unclaimed Property Loophole May Soon Be Closed
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A Call Kurtis Investigation exposed the state taking in millions of your unclaimed dollars, with no chance of returning it to you. But now a California lawmaker plans to tackle the problem.
If you don’t touch money in a bank account for three years, it’s considered unclaimed money. It’s supposed to go the state, where they hold onto it until you claim it. But we found if it’s less than $50, you may never get it back.
“Well I think it’s really unfair to the consumer,” said Assem. Bonnie Lowenthal (D-Long Beach).
Fifteen-year-old Tanner Call, of Elk Grove found out about it, when the $30.75 he had in his Bank of America savings account went to the State without warning.
“It’s my money. So, I mean it makes me mad,” Tanner told us in November.
But his dad, Will, said the State couldn’t find the money.
“The state says there’s nothing showing up for Tanner, they don’t have any record of receiving anything and they don’t know when it’s coming or if it’s coming,” said Will.
CBS13 learned while banks must hand over the unclaimed money, they only need to send along the owner’s name if the property has a value of at least $50, which explains why the State had no record of Tanner’s $30.75. And they don’t have to notify you before-hand either.
“I think it’s pretty dumb because how am I supposed to know?” asked Tanner.
After a public records act request in November, we learned the state has taken in more than $68 million since 2007 without any property owner information. That’s $68 million that belongs to you and ends up in the State’s general fund.
“All of a sudden we were the little fish in this big giant pond of other people in the same predicament and surprised that nobody had done anything about it,” said Will.
But now someone is doing something about it.
“I actually pride myself on doing work for the little guy,” said Assem. Lowenthal.
She authored a bill requiring names and addresses to be sent along to the state with any unclaimed money. It also requires that consumers be notified before the money is transferred.
“That’s the goal. Whether it’s under $50 or over $50, people need to be notified,” said Assem. Lowenthal.
After we got involved, Tanner did get his $30.75 back from Bank of America. But now he may be the reason for a change in State law.
“Hopefully the end result is going to be that it actually does pass and get signed and it won’t happen ever again to anyone else,” said Will.
“I think it should be called ‘Tanner’s Law,’” said Tanner.
Assem. Lowenthal has actually invited Tanner to be a witness at the committee hearing, which is the first step for the bill, which Controller John Chiang sponsored. If it clears all votes, it would go into effect January first, 2014.