By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily
More than 8,000 checks totaling $5.13 million were issued to current and former Wyoming residents from the state’s Unclaimed Property Division of the State Treasurer’s Office this year, the office reported.
State Treasurer Curt Meier, in a news release Monday said the number of checks issued by the division increased by 32.5% over the previous record set one year prior.
Meier said an investment into new software at the end of 2018 was one of the main reasons for the spike.
“This was our first full fiscal year utilizing the new technology,” Meier said in the release. “We were able to operate more efficiently and, as a result, more of our citizens were able to recapture their money.”
Although the amount of checks issued was a record-breaker, unclaimed property administrator Jeff Robertson said the amount of money paid out was actually lower than in previous years.
“We were disappointed that payments didn’t increase along with the increase in approved claims,” Robertson said in the release. “We just didn’t have as many large-value claims as we did the previous year. We had quite a few claims paying out hundreds of dollars, but the number of claims paying five or six digits was down considerably.”
Robertson added that comparing the claims paid in 2020 to 2019, there were only 74 checks that exceeded $10,000 this year. However, 143 checks issued in 2019 exceeded the $10,000 mark.
In 2020, Wyoming received $9.5 million in unclaimed property while paying out $5.1 million to 8,062 recipients. For 2019, the State received $9.1 million while paying out $6.9 million to 6,084 individuals and businesses.
Property is turned over to the state when a business, agency or governmental entity owes property, typically money or stocks, to someone and for whatever reason cannot locate the owner for a specified time period.
Meier said the state is still holding approximately $91 million in unclaimed property, but that it’s easier than ever for individuals to claim their money.
“We encourage all citizens to go to our website at mycash.wyo.gov and see if they are entitled to any of these funds,” Meier said. “There is a two-minute video on the left side of the page that explains how to make a claim through the website.”
To make a valid claim, owners will need to provide information about themselves and may need to submit official documents. This could be as simple as a copy of a driver’s license if the property is in your name, but if someone is claiming as an heir or a business, additional documents may be requested.
Wyoming law requires the state to hold unclaimed property in perpetuity until the rightful owner is able to claim it.