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A friend of mine emailed me a few weeks ago she was watching Suze Orman on “Oprah” who was on talking about unclaimed money. In her boredom, my friend searched a website on behalf of her friends and apparently I had three claims in my name in my former city of residence, Lincoln, Nebraska.

Holy smokes! This was like a supersized feeling of the ol’ finding a $20 bill in the jeans pocket kind of goodness, as the claim info said it was “Under $300.” Money that was already mine? For free?

Suze says that we scatterbrains don’t remember opening a bank account, putting a deposit down or filing a rebate. Then we move and the banks and states can’t find us so they hold onto our stuff via unclaimed property offices. You might even receive a letter saying you have unclaimed money — it’s a scam only if they say you need to pony up some cash to get a too-good-to-be-true payout, she says.

I hadn’t lived in Nebraska since 2003 so who knows what money my careless and clueless college self lost track of. I knew I didn’t have much of it back then; I surmised it could have been a freelance payment from my college newspaper days or maybe an old waitressing paycheck — $12 maybe, $50 tops.

The process itself was easy and quick. I filled out my claim info online. Within a week, Steve with Nebraska Unclaimed Property called me with a claim number — all he needed was to confirm my old address. Eeek. That was seriously the hardest part — I had only lived at this apartment for a mere six months (and wasn’t even on the lease) before jetting off to adulthood in Florida and another new address. Note to self: Write down all former addresses (this can be found on tax forms, too) because you think you will remember, but you just don’t.

Luckily, a friend who works near my old apartment in Lincoln drove by to verify the address. Then I called Steve back, who was very polite by the way, with the info and he informed me that I had $123 coming my way.

I seriously have no clue what this is from; Steve said it was from an old line of credit. I’m slightly embarrassed that I was able to forget about such a sum of money, especially because in the eight years since I can think of countless times $123 could have come in handy. And lucky, it still will, once that check arrives in two to three weeks, covering part of the cost of summer camp for my daughter. My responsible adult self thanks my careless college self immensely.

Suze says to check these websites to see if you have unclaimed property/money:

Unclaimed.org

MissingMoney.com

Treasury.gov

Here is what I found for Colorado (love that it is called The Great Colorado Payback): http://colorado.gov/treasury/gcp/

According to this website, more than 500,000 people are listed as owners of over $100 million in unclaimed property, held for safekeeping at the Colorado Department of the Treasury. And there are no time limits, either — all unclaimed properties are held forever, subject to claim by the rightful owner or their heirs. Thousands of new claims are added each month, so check at least annually.

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