More than $1B worth of unclaimed property came into state’s possession in 2022

Millions of dollars are up for grabs in the state of Texas, sort of.

"It could be bank accounts, it could be utility deposits…it could be a customer refund," said Bryant Clayton, assistant director of the Unclaimed Property Division of the Texas Comptroller’s Office.

Objects of value left inside a safe deposit box could also become unclaimed property, deposited into the state’s General Revenue Fund until it’s claimed by the rightful owner.

Texas residents can go online and type in a name or business to search for unclaimed property going back decades. 

But many Texans may not realize they have property to claim, which is why some states take an extra step for residents.

For example, in Wisconsin, the Department of Revenue mails checks automatically to owners of unclaimed property worth up to $2,000 dollars and "notice of unclaimed property" letters to owners of property worth more than $2,000. In 2021, $2.7 million in checks was sent out.

In Texas, a bill was passed in 2021 that authorizes the Comptroller’s office to do the same for properties worth less than $5,000.

However, there is no timeline yet on its implementation.

"That's a project we're working on - defining what properties should be eligible, and how can we identify all the information to return that property to the right owner?" said Clayton.

As of 2016, properties worth less than $25 no longer show up on the website. Clayton pointed out that there is still a way to check smaller properties via a search form on the website. 

"You can ask us to search for any and all property that belongs to you….and we will do that research," said Clayton. "And that can be helpful because there may be property that may not be reported in your name." 

For example, an individual may have a gift card number, but not a name.

Data obtained through a public information request showed how much unclaimed property the state has compared to how much has been paid out. 

In 2022, $1,011,742,238.35 worth of unclaimed property came into the state’s possession, and $309,537,531.95 was paid out to residents, about 30%.

Over a five-year period, from 2018 to 2022, the state received $3,849,375,096.56 and paid out $1,443,847,727.80 – roughly 37%.

In total, the state is currently holding more than $7 billion worth of unclaimed property, according to the Comptroller’s Office

A recent search of multiple, Austin-based nonprofits brought up a handful of unclaimed property amounts that were listed. Searches by FOX 7 for larger organizations, like Salvation Army, resulted in pages of results.

Clayton encouraged Texans to go online and search for their name or a relative’s. 

"We do claims regularly for property that was reported to us back in the eighties," said Clayton.

For a nationwide search on unclaimed property, click here.