By Julie Watts

SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX) — California is stepping up its efforts to reunite current and former residents with their long-forgotten money and property. The state is now allowing people to access unclaimed property valued at less than $500 through a special on-line form on the state controller’s website.

“It’s a major advancement,” said State Controller John Chiang, whose office oversees the state’s unclaimed property.

Chiang says that property includes items left in abandoned safe deposit boxes, though most of it is cash. “Unclaimed properties are monies that businesses owe to an individual. It can be a bank, a former landlord, it can be a utility company,” Chiang explained.

Even old refund checks you forgot to cash as a KPIX5 employee discovered when he tested the new site.

“I think I had to send back a bottle of Children’s Tylenol,” he recalled.

Until now, claiming cash required mailing in a form. The new on-line system is supposed to speed up the process and issue refunds under $500 with 14 days.

Since introducing the online claim form system in January, the state paid out more than one million dollars in refunds. The average refund is $75.

Property valued at more than $500 still must be claimed with a paper application.



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