State’s unclaimed fund has money not just for individuals

UPDATE – During the WBTW “Claim Your Cash” phone bank Monday, more than 1,000 people found unclaimed money being held for them at the State Treasurer’s Office. According to the SC Treasurer’s Office, as of Tuesday, the total amount of money located was $490,587.54.

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WBTW) -The state of South Carolina is holding about $550 million of unclaimed money that belongs to people across the state. Those millions of dollars are unclaimed because it has not made it to the rightful owner. It is not just people who are owed money, but also local governments, community organizations and even charities.

Anyone can search for unclaimed money on this website.  

One example is the Johnsonville Rescue Squad. It has been at the same spot on east Broadway Street for about 48 years. However, some people cannot get the mailing address right. That is because mail needs to go to the squad’s post office box. If not, Chief Tom Redmond, says the mail gets redirected.

“(The) Post Office will send it back,” Redmond said. “That’s probably what happened in this case.”

Redmond was referring to how two insurance payments to the squad ended up in the state’s unclaimed cash fund. News13 shared the total amount with Redmond.

“$182.95 and $537.48,” he said as he read off the amounts listed for the rescue squad in the state’s database. “I think it’s great. I’ll apply for it.”

“That’ll pay our diesel bill normally for a month,” he added.

Redmond said he could also put the money toward supplies. For example, he could buy about 13 shots of Narcan and likely save 13 people from heroin overdoses.

The Johnsonville Rescue Squad certainly is not an isolated case. A simple search shows various departments in Florence County could have more than $3,500 in unclaimed money – the city of Florence nearly $1,100. Various departments in Horry County could have more the $7,400 in unclaimed money, and the city of Myrtle Beach may be due more than $1,200. Many other local governments are also in the database.

Treasurer Curtis Loftis says the reasons money sometimes does not get to people are the same reasons money does not get to those local governments and other agencies.

“Most of the time it’s a bad address or a bad mail man,” explained Loftis. “It could be the homeowner or the business owner has moved themselves. It could be bad word processing – they transposed an address or put a wrong zip code.”

The Murrells Inlet Garden City Fire Department is another public agency with unclaimed money.

Nearly a thousand dollars for the department has been sitting in the state’s unclaimed fund since 2008 when a bank turned it in. Chief Norman Knight can only guess that it is money left from when the rescue squad dissolved into the fire department.

“We’ll certainly proceed with seeing about getting the money. …and of course we’re listed here twice – two other places – as the Murrells Inlet Garden City Fire Department. So it’ll be interesting to look into those as well,” Knight said. “At the end of the day we could be looking at a total here of looks like about 12 hundred dollars.”

Whatever the reason, Loftis says if a business or person has money that is owned to another business or person, the holder of that money is legally responsible for trying to get it to the right place.

“If they can’t, they send it to the state, and then we try to find that owner,” Loftis said.

Redmond said he was not aware of either insurance company trying to reach him to get the money to his squad.

“I didn’t get the phone call, and if they got it here at the squad they would tell them to contact me,” Redmond said. “So I’m not aware of any phone calls coming in.”

However, Loftis said more people are at least turning in money to the state’s unclaimed property fund. Its continued growth is proof.

He and his staff of 17 do cross reference and track down why some of the money did not make it to the rightful owner, but even when that rightful owner is a local government or a well established public agency with obvious contact info, they cannot possibly figure out the issue with every case.

“Everybody can do better,” Loftis said. “It’s my job and my office’s job to get out and make sure more people are aware.”

Once Chief Redmond became aware, he wasted no time claiming his squad’s money.

“This week will not go out until we apply for that money.”