A consumer-protection law in New York requires companies that charge fees to obtain unclaimed funds held by the state to inform customers that they could retrieve the money on their own. Some companies charge a percentage of what is recovered, and others charge an up-front fee, regardless of whether any funds are retrieved.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo recently signed the legislation, which takes effect Sept. 29. It requires companies to notify consumers in writing that they can search for unclaimed funds for free on the state comptroller’s website. They have to give the website address and the phone number to call at the comptroller’s office—800-221-9311.
Unclaimed funds are money or the rights to money that have been forgotten or dormant in an account, such as utility deposits, stocks and dividends, uncashed checks and mortgage-insurance refunds. Banks, insurance companies, utilities, investment companies and other businesses have to turn over inactive accounts to the state.
“As New York’s custodian of more than $12 billion in unclaimed funds, my office greatly appreciates this essential protection for individuals looking to claim their rightful property,” state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli said in a statement.
Many people aren’t aware they can search unclaimed funds for free, said Sen. Charles Fuschillo Jr., R-Nassau County, one of the bill sponsors.
“Requiring these companies to inform consumers that they can retrieve these funds themselves for free will ensure that residents can make an informed decision before they are charged,” he said in a statement.