Returning Your Money to Where it Belongs

Illinois State Treasurer's Office
2 min readAug 24, 2020

August 2020 Treasurer’s Note by Treasurer Michael Frerichs

$1 Billion.

That is the record-shattering amount of money we returned to Illinoisans and their families since taking office in 2015. It is the most that has been returned in any five-year period in the program’s 58-year history.

We accomplished this historic (and personal) goal by working smarter. The results clearly show that success can be accomplished when we dream big, plan, and execute.

Unclaimed property refers to property or accounts within financial institutions or companies in which there typically has been no activity for several years and the business cannot locate the owner. In Illinois, the state treasurer is tasked with safeguarding unclaimed property, such as unpaid life insurance benefits, forgotten bank accounts, and unused rebate cards. The state treasurer is legally required to return the property no matter how long it takes.

Making it easier to return these properties was a priority. We upgraded technology, re-allocated staff, and streamlined the claims process to make it more efficient and less time consuming. We also worked with Democrats and Republicans to change state law and create the Money Match program, which automatically returns simple claims of up to $2,000 when we can match state records with the unclaimed property and owner.

Our success is more than words. The numbers show we have built a faster, better, and more efficient service.

It was not an easy task. Certain businesses resisted surrendering unclaimed property because, quite simply, they would profit from failing to return other people’s money. In some cases, we had to involve the judicial system to obtain unclaimed property. It did not always garner headlines, but it was the right thing to do.

An estimated one-in-four people have unclaimed property and the average payment is $1,000. Individuals can search a database for their name or the name of their business or non‑profit at

Good luck!

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