‘One small way we can thank them for their service’: More than $700K returned to Utah veterans

May 29, 2023, 2:49 PM

Veteran Michael West salutes during the posting of the colors at American Preparatory Academy in We...

Veteran Michael West salutes during the posting of the colors at American Preparatory Academy in West Valley City on Nov. 8, 2021. More than $700,000 in unclaimed property has been returned to 750 Utah veterans so far. (Scott G Winterton, Deseret News)

(Scott G Winterton, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY — More than $700,000 in lost money has been returned to 750 Utah veterans so far as part of a state government campaign to support service members.

The Utah Department of Veterans & Military Affairs and the Utah Office of State Treasurer launched a program in November 2022 to help restore unclaimed money and property to Utah’s veterans.

Through a collaboration with the Utah Division of Technology Services, the agencies matched records to identify around 22,000 veterans with lost money. Those veterans have been contacted by mail with instructions on how to claim their property.

So far, $709,197 has been reunited with 750 veterans.

“Our veterans, service members and their families have sacrificed so much. Helping them find their unclaimed property is one small way we can thank them for their service,” State Treasurer Marlo Oaks said. “I’m hopeful our effort will continue to be a success and we will return even more money to those who have served our country going forward.”

The Unclaimed Property Division of the Office of State Treasurer gathers tens of millions of dollars in Utahns’ unclaimed property every year. Last year’s unclaimed money totaled $77.2 million.

If a business cannot locate a property owner within three years, the money is turned over to the Unclaimed Property Division. Unclaimed money comes from sources including overpayments, utility refunds, insurance checks, money orders, uncashed checks, payroll checks, safe deposit boxes and more.

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Dennis Johnston, Navy veteran and Unclaimed Property Division administrator, said veterans are more likely to have more unclaimed money because they move around more frequently and thus change their utility services, banks and insurance companies more often than most civilians.

“Having been on deployment myself and knowing how things can go awry, we want to get this money back into the pockets of our service members and veterans, particularly this year when people are economically challenged,” Johnston said in a press release.

Finding unclaimed property doesn’t just apply to veterans. Around 25% of Utahns have money being held by the Unclaimed Property Division. Anyone can search their name on the department’s website to check if they have property waiting to be claimed.

To make it even easier to access unclaimed property, Utah Gov. Spencer Cox signed HB360 Unclaimed Property Amendments into law in March. This law allows the state treasurer to use the Utah State Tax Commission’s resources to match up Utahns with their missing money and automatically send out checks.

The bill caps the limit of automatic checks at under $2,000, meaning that larger amounts will still require Utahns to make a claim.

Utah veterans and civilians alike are encouraged by the Utah Department of Veterans and Military Affairs and the Utah Office of State Treasurer to check out mycash.utah.gov to find their unclaimed property.

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‘One small way we can thank them for their service’: More than $700K returned to Utah veterans