CHICOPEE, Mass. (WWLP) – On 22News at 6:00 p.m., the I-Team showed you how much money some state, local and federal agencies have sitting in the state’s bank. There is a good chance you or a family member may have money in there too, but the I-Team discovered why the state may have trouble finding you, or you may have trouble finding it.
There are more than 1,500 families in or from western Massachusetts that have $5,000 or more sitting in the state’s unclaimed property division. Thirteen of those families are owed more than $100,000.
Mark Bracken, the Assistant Treasurer for the Commonwealth in charge of the Unclaimed Property Division told 22News that they want everyone to have what is rightfully theirs. “Our number one priority is to return money to the people,” said Bracken.
(Why is there so much money sitting in the coffers?) “In order for us to have a $0 sum for the year, we would have to return $200 million,” said Bracken.
The state did turn over more than $112 million just last year.
The 22News I-Team obtained the master list of everyone who is owed money. We started cross-checking a lot of the names of those from western Massachusetts who are owed money, and not all of them showed up.
We located a family from Westfield that was owed more than $5,000, but their name for that amount was not showing up when we searched on the state’s website.
(You find her name on the website, for it’s for less than $100) “I would tell you a claim form has already been generated,” said Bracken.
The state showed us someone in their family started a claim a few years back, but never sent it in. That’s why they couldn’t find their name when we searched for it.
“There are people that we contact on a daily basis, I would say about half our claim forms that are sent out every year are not returned to us,” said Bracken.
We also started searching for a woman who was owed close to $350,000. Her last known address was at Ruth’s House in Longmeadow. The I-Team went there, and they couldn’t find a family member just yet. The check said it is from the Hampden County Probate and Family Court. Her name wasn’t in their computer or older filing system.
“A lot of times we get bad information turned over to us, we get properties that don’t have addresses or Social Security numbers or dates of birth; a lot of times all we have is an address. That’s the only way we can find this person, this former address,” said Bracken.
Bracken says that if you can’t find your name on their website and are owed money, either someone started a claim, the database is timing out, or the information is a little bit off. “Our database is currently very old and only does exact matches, so it has to match exactly even the spaces,” said Bracken.
Bracken told the I-Team that they are in the process of finding a new database provider, which should improve their search functions on their website. In the meantime, even if you can’t find your name on their website, the state recommends calling their office directly to check if you are owed any money. Those numbers are 1-888-344-MASS (toll free Massachusetts only) or 1-800-647-2300 or (617)-367-0400.