Santa Clara County Sitting on $464,000 in Unclaimed Cash

Santa Clara County is sitting on a small fortune of unclaimed property. But it needs the public’s help to return the six-figure stash to its rightful owners.

County officials say that they owe $464,200 to 1,015 people they’ve had no luck tracking down by phone, email, snail mail and skip tracing. Thus, having exhausted all options, the county published two lists of names—here’s the first, here’s the second—and here’s the one for business entities entitled to some of the bounty.

The money on deposit with the county’s’ Department of Revenue comes from various sources, including overpaid fines, penalties and fees or restitution for crime victims. The revenue arm of the county serves as its central collection agency, processing payments to all departments and the Santa Clara Superior Court.

About 145,000 people a year make 250,000 payments through the revenue division. In all, that accounts for about $637 million in payments, which gets divided among various county offices. Revenue clerks try every means to locate rightful owners of the unclaimed money. In some cases, the recipients don’t want the cash or don’t have the records or identification to reclaim it.

“Many efforts are made to locate owners of the unclaimed money, but we are unable to reach them because of limited or outdated information, or the business itself is not able to substantiate that the money belongs to them,” says Emily Harrison, the county’s finance director.

People whose names, or names of their businesses, are on the list can fill out a claim form on the county website. Applicants will need to provide a valid ID to collect. The deadline to file claims is May 19.

Money that remains after the deadline passes gets passed to a victim trust fund managed by the District Attorney’s Office. If it’s unclaimed in that account, it then gets shuffled to the county general fund and can be used as directed by the Board of Supervisors.

Another list people might want to check out was released last month by state Controllor Betty Yee, who reported a record $8 billion in unclaimed property. Click here to peruse that database. Or check out the recently added search tool—available here—that helps beneficiaries claim death benefits they may not have known about.

For more information about how to collect from the county, or to download the claim form, click here. There’s also the option of calling the revenue office at 408.282.3203 or emailing [email protected].

Jennifer Wadsworth is a staff writer for San Jose Inside and Metro Newspaper. Email tips to [email protected] or follow her on Twitter at @jennwadsworth.

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