Get free money from the state comptroller! Brooklynites owed $874 million in unclaimed funds, office says

State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli (right) and Borough President Antonio Reynoso encourage Brooklynites to check for unclaimed funds.
Photo by Ben Brachfeld

Do you like free money? The state comptroller’s office might give you some!

State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli says that his office is sitting on more than $874 million in “unclaimed funds” owed to Brooklynites, and wants to make sure you get what’s yours.

“There’s $874,117,311 waiting there for the Brooklyn community,” DiNapoli said at Borough Hall last week, as he presented a giant check to Borough President Antonio Reynoso after unveiling a new report on Brooklyn’s economic recovery. “So please check.”

One of the comptroller’s many responsibilities is shepherding money owed to New Yorkers, but for whatever reason has gone unclaimed. That could be because a bank account was closed with money still in it, a check was never cashed, a bill was overpaid, a will was never executed, or any of a number of other reasons.

After a certain period of time going unclaimed, funds are legally transferred to the stewardship of the comptroller’s office, where they can be claimed by their rightful owners.

Statewide, DiNapoli says it controls over $17 billion in unclaimed funds. Most of that money is released to the Legislature at any given time to pay the state’s bills, but the comptroller’s office keeps enough money in reserves to return around $1.5 million to New Yorkers per day, with more money coming in all the time as old accounts become dormant. The accounts in the comptroller’s office never expire, and there’s returnable money dating back to the 1940s, DiNapoli says.

Claiming the money is easy. The best way to do so is online: go to the Comptroller’s unclaimed funds site, click on “search now,” and simply enter your name in the portal. If you’re owed sweet, sweet cash, your name will appear along with the entity that turned over the greenbacks to the state. The comptroller’s office says it processes online claims within two weeks; check the status of your claim a few days after making it, submit any necessary documentation to prove you are who you say you are, and you should get a check in the mail soon after if the claim is approved.

Individuals or organizations are eligible to claim funds, and DiNapoli suggests that New Yorkers not only search for themselves, but also for friends, relatives, and even deceased loved ones.

“When you are searching online, which is the easy way to see if there’s any money there, put in not only your name or any organization you may be affiliated with — business, labor, church, synagogue, nonprofit — also put in the names of relatives and friends, you’ll be very popular if you find them money, but also deceased relatives, parents, grandparents,” DiNapoli said. “We may need more documentation if it’s an inheritance situation, but the accounts never expire.”

Claims can be submitted online at https://www.osc.state.ny.us/unclaimed-funds, by phone by calling 1-800-221-9311, or by mail by sending a claim to the State Comptroller’s Office of Unclaimed Funds at 110 State Street, Albany, New York, 12236.