Unclaimed cash …
flickr photo by 401(K) 2013
Does Harrisburg have
any of your money?
By Jim Murphy
Believe it or not, one in ten Pennsylvania residents has property just waiting in the state treasury to be claimed.
The total amount: $2.3 billion, and counting.
Across the country, the average claim returned to owners is $892, says the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators (NAUPA). Even so, about $41.7 billion is still unclaimed.
How does this happen? People move, change jobs, get married or divorced, and don’t leave forwarding information. So insurance payments, utility security deposits, uncashed dividends and refunds, old savings and checking accounts and contents of safe deposit boxes end up in the coffers of state treasuries.
How to claim your money
Search for it in Pennsylvania at www.patreasury.gov or call toll-free at 1-800-222-2046.
And remember, the service is free. As PA.’s website says: “you never have to pay a fee to claim what is yours!”
Note: Pennsylvania’s database does not include claims with a cash value of less than $5.
Beware of this
Most of us will do anything for our grandchildren. And thieves know this. So they use our love and emotion to blind us to a scam that’s been working for years.
Here’s how it goes, according to Sid Kirchheimer in the AARP Bulletin:
You get a late-night emergency call. “Hi, Grandma, is that you?”
Usually, the call from your “grandchild is to say he or she has been in a car accident, having car trouble or been arrested for drunken driving. In all cases, they need you to wire money immediately to help them.
In a panic, many grandparents do.
Here’s how to protect yourself:
- Don’t use the name of your grandchild, such as: “Mary, is that you? If the caller says, “It’s your granddaughter,” say: “Which one?”
- Verify the caller’s identity. Say you will call them on their cell, or you’ll call their mother or father for the number.
- Do not give out any account numbers.
- Ask the person a question only your grandchild could answer, like the name of your pet or where you used to go on vacation together.
- Be suspicious of any request for money wires via places like Walmart, Western Union or MoneyGram. If the caller asks you to wire money, don’t do it. Instead, contact your local police department or your state attorney general’s office.
For a real-life video example from AARP on this common scam, see the top source below.
Beware of those costly
retail store credit cards
We’ve all been there. You’re in a bright retail store ready to check out. And the friendly clerk says: “You can save 10% today when you take our credit card.”
What should you reply? “No thanks.”
Here’s why. According to USA Today, store cards charge an average interest rate of 23.84%, compared to the 15.18% national average for all other credit cards.
Some, like Zales (29.24%) and Staples (28.24%) charges much more.
Mike Sullivan, a personal advice consultant for non-profit credit counselor Take Charge America, says, “I don’t recommend month-to-month use for any of these cards. Never carry them in your billfold.”
Bottom line: if you want to look more closely at the offer, take a brochure home and read about the card in more detail. But don’t sign up on the spot. Your wallet will thank you.
Jim Murphy is a direct marketing copywriter who has run his own consulting business since 2004. For nine years, he wrote and edited “Choices,” an award-winning credit union magazine with a circulation of 80,000. He also is a certified member of the Association of Philadelphia Tour Guides.
Any comments made are Jim’s opinion, and not necessarily those of the Old Pine Community Center.