By Mississippi State Treasurer David McRae
My great-grandfather grew up on a farm in rural Rankin County. He opened his first department store in Jackson, Mississippi, at the turn of the century. Like today, that wasn’t the easiest time to start a business. World War I was coming. The 1918 flu pandemic was around the corner. And the Great Depression wasn’t far behind. But my great-grandfather understood one thing very clearly: If we were going to weather the economic tides, our family couldn’t be in the department store business; we had to be in the customer-service business. For 100 years, we were.
That same customer-service mindset is at the center of what I’m now doing as Mississippi Treasurer. While much of what I do addresses how our state finances are structured in order to best preserve your tax dollars and protect the state’s credit rating, the Treasury is also responsible for returning unclaimed property to its rightful owner – and this is where customer service really comes into play.
It’s sometimes very difficult for banks, credit unions, and even retail stores to find the rightful owner of certain monetized property, such as an electricity bill refund issued to your former residence, the remanence of a long-forgotten savings account, or an inheritance left by a late relative. The reality is that people move, families lose touch, and the money that’s left behind goes unclaimed. So, after five years, these entities turn that money over to the state to find the rightful owners.
Since January when I entered office, the Treasury’s Division of Unclaimed Property has returned more than $10 million to Mississippi. It’s important to note the money we return in Unclaimed Property is not the state’s money – it’s not taxpayer money either. It’s your money and so it’s simply the State Treasury’s responsibility to return it to the rightful owners, which is precisely what we’re doing.
$10 million is a lot to pump into Mississippi’s economy right now. Since we’re just seven months into this project, however, we still have millions more to return. With that in mind, I wanted to personally invite every Mississippian to help out with this economy-boosting effort.
I am proud of the work my team is doing to return this money. We’re conducting our own investigative work and proactively reaching out to those we believe are the rightful owners, but you can play a big role in this process as well. Here’s how:
1. Visit Treasury.MS.gov.
2. Search for money in your name, a family member’s name, your church’s name, your business’ name, or even a favorite organization’s name.
3. If there is money that you believe may belong to you, claim it. Our team will then get to work returning it to you.
We know this has been a tough year financially for many in the state. We’re hopeful, however, that this effort can bring a little relief to some. If you don’t have internet access or cannot visit Treasury.MS.gov, please call our office at 601-359-3600. We would be happy to help you begin your search.
Editors note: All views, positions, opinion, statements and recommendations expressed in any Smart Women Smart Money (SWSM) print or digital publication should not be construed as an endorsement for, or opposition to, any candidate, potential candidate, political party, or PAC by the State Financial Officers Foundation or Smart Women Smart Money.