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Call Kurtis: Unclaimed Property Bill Clears First Hurdle

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Eight-time Emmy Award winner Kurtis Ming is CBS13's consumer...
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An Elk Grove teen could help change a state law. Tanner Call’s story helped us expose $68 million dollars of your unclaimed money that is sitting with the state with no name or address attached to it. He recently stood in front of lawmakers, asking for change.

“Mr. Chair and Assemblymembers, thank you for allowing me to speak briefly about my story,” said Tanner, in front of the Assembly Judiciary Committee on April 2nd.

The 15-year-old and his dad, Will Call testified in support of the bill to change the state’s Unclaimed Property Law.

“I didn’t realize that one phone call to the media last fall would eventually find me sitting here before you, to ask your help in changing the law,” Will told the committee.

We met them in November, after the $30.75 Tanner had in his Bank of America savings account disappeared. It went to the state after it was deemed unclaimed property because he apparently hadn’t touched the account in three years.

“It’s my money. So, I mean, it makes me mad,” Tanner told us last year.

But the state couldn’t find his 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,” Will said in November.

We learned while banks must hand over the unclaimed money to the state, 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.

The law also says neither banks nor the state have to notify you beforehand.

“Bank of America always had my address, they had our phone numbers, they had our email addresses, yet they couldn’t find a way to contact us. Lame is an understatement,” Tanner told the Assembly Judiciary Committee.

After a public records act request in November, CBS13 learned the state has taken in $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.

“Well I think it’s really unfair to the consumer,” said Assemblymember Bonnie Lowenthal.

Reacting to our investigation, the democrat from Long Beach authored a bill, AB 212, requiring names and addresses be sent along to the state with unclaimed money of any amount. It would also require banks and institutions to notify consumers before the money is transferred.

“That’s the goal; whether it’s under $50 or over $50, people need to be notified,” said Lowenthal.

The first stop to making that bill a law is the Assembly Judiciary Committee.

“The $68 million the state has received in the last five years represents at least 1,360,000 citizens, just like Tanner who are trying to figure out where their money is and how to get it back,” Will told the committee.

During the hearing, the Controller’s office, which sponsored AB 212 admitted of the $68 million, only $33,000 made its way back to its owners.

But some are against the bill. While the California Bankers Association and California Credit Union league support sending names along with money considered unclaimed, they don’t want to send out a notice to people like Tanner before the money goes to the state.

“Admin costs and the additional burdens will be very expensive from some of our smaller institutions,” the representative for the California Bankers Association told the Committee.

Despite the opposition, the bill still passed through the Assembly Judiciary Committee.

“I got a rare chance to help pass a law that most people my age or any age don’t get to do something like this,” said Tanner.

AB 212 still has a long way to go before becoming a law. It moves next to the Committee on Appropriations, then the full assembly and Senate, before going to the Governor.

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