New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli announced today that his office has identified more than $5 million in unclaimed funds for local governments across the state. After reaching out and alerting officials from counties, cities, towns and villages of this lost money, DiNapoli’s office has returned more than $1.5 million so far. DiNapoli’s office oversees the state’s 31 million unclaimed funds accounts, valued at more than $13 billion.

“Every dollar owed to local governments should be collected and put to good use to help provide essential services for New Yorkers and to relieve the burden on taxpayers around the state,” DiNapoli said. “My office has returned more than $1.5 million in unclaimed funds to local governments in the last few weeks, but $3.5 million is still waiting to be claimed. I encourage local government officials to work with my office so that we can return the money as soon as possible.”

DiNapoli’s office identified nearly 10,000 unclaimed funds accounts valued at $5,023,246 by matching the names of 1,600 local governments against the state’s unclaimed funds database. The search found 6,592 accounts valued at $3.8 million owed to counties (including New York City’s five boroughs), 800 accounts valued at $317,232 owed to cities, 1,552 accounts valued at $636,232 owed to towns and 798 accounts valued at $262,908 owed to villages.

Representatives from DiNapoli’s office sent letters to financial officers of local governments that appear in the unclaimed funds database and asked them to confirm ownership in order to process the claims and return the money. Ownership is verified by demonstrating a connection to the address or the account associated with the funds.

Unclaimed funds are lost or forgotten money that has been turned over to the state until the rightful owners come forward. Sources of accounts in the name of local governments include uncashed checks and money orders, refunds, rebates, utility deposits and amounts due for undelivered goods and services.

Unclaimed funds date back to the 1940s and can be claimed at any time. Most claims are processed online, with checks sent out in a week. Some claims, such as estate claims, require additional paperwork and can take more time. Account holders including individuals, businesses, organizations and local governments can search for lost money for free by visiting the Office of Unclaimed Funds’ website or by calling the call center toll-free at 1-800-221-9311.

On average, DiNapoli’s office returns $1 million a day. Last year, a record $422 million was returned to its rightful owners. Since January, nearly $180 million has been returned to New Yorkers.

Click here to view a chart showing the number of outstanding accounts in the name of local governments, and the values, by region.

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