We begin today with our find yours segment. I’ve told you that small businesses often have larger pots of unclaimed money out there waiting for them than individuals do. Not as many accounts, but bigger accounts. My next guest found that out first hand when he was able to find unclaimed money for his business. Please welcome Chris Miller of West Virginia to the program. Hi Chris!
Chris, first tell us what type of business you run there in West Virginia.
Chris Miller is a local car dealership owner. The dealership is called Dutch Miller Auto and they have several locations in West Virginia, including Charleston.
You received a sizable amount of unclaimed money back. Don’t tell us how much yet, but tell us how you first heard it was out there.
I have always known about unclaimed property but being busy it isn’t something you think about. The state treasurer’s office contacted me and said we think we have a lot of your unclaimed property.
What did you have to do to claim it?
The gentleman from the state treasurer’s office showed up to the dealership. My mother is house majority whip of the state so I knew he was legit and that his business card was legit. He collected my driver’s license, had me fill out forms and said I will get back to you. He wouldn’t tell me how much money, but he said it was sizable and worth coming to see me!
So he was keeping you in suspense and I want to keep our listeners in suspense a little longer. The unclaimed money you received, what did the money come from?
I do know what money came from. It had to do with insurance settlements for bodywork, deductible payments, overpayment of taxes. A very long list. It was $187 here. $200 there. And it went back to 1989.
So how did you finally find out how much money was out there for you and your business?
The Treasurer’s office got back in touch with me 4 weeks later and said they had great news. They said ‘We would love to do a check presentation with you.’ We coordinated on our end and we did a check presentation.
Alright, it’s time. How big was that check they handed you? How much did you receive?
They handed me a big huge check for $11,162!!!!
And what did you do with the money?
I had contacted the Children’s Home Society of WV and invited them to the check presentation. It’s a place kids go before they go into foster care when they are in abusive situations. It is underfunded right now because of the opioid epidemic so more kids are getting pulled out. I donated my unclaimed money to the Children’s Home Society right then and there. I received it and handed it over to them.
Describe your thinking when you cooked up this plan. I imagine it was fun to take this money that you didn’t even know you had and do some good with it.
I have been a huge supporter of them. I knew what I wanted to do with the money. These funds will provide more of an opportunity for kids being pulled out of their home to have better access to food, pajamas, shoes, special care, funding of people who work in the organization. Better everything. This is unclaimed property. You don’t have to pay taxes since it isn’t revenue. I made a donation which was tax deductible.
That’s not all this experience inspired you to do. Describe how you started trying to get the word out that other people might have unclaimed money out there too.
I got on radio shows and we had a press conference at the dealership. I wanted to spread the word. People are very very uninformed about unclaimed property and that is why I wanted to get involved to educate people as much as I could. There is $139 million still sitting unclaimed in the state treasurer’s office.
As a businessman, what drives you crazy about all that money just sitting there?
There is $139 million still sitting unclaimed in the state treasurer’s office. It could be injected back into the economy, donated to charity. Every single economy is local. You may not need the money but another group might and you can give to them. The small amount of effort, filling out paperwork and forms – to find out to have extra money to give to someone else in your community who needs it is a no brainer. Can use the money to do good. It is every single business owner’s obligation to give back to the community they do business in. It is something we should all be doing. If it is $11 or $1,100 or $11,000.
I think some people don’t search for unclaimed money because they think it’s too good to be true. Or that it’s hard to do. Is it?
It was incredibly easy. I didn’t have to do much at all. Anybody and everybody in state of WV can find out if they have it. You don’t even have to be the person. If you are an immediate heir you can fill out forms, prove who you are and receive this money. Get online in whatever state you live in and search unclaimed property. Type in your name, family member’s names, deceased family members names and see if they have unclaimed property. It is easy and it is free.
In fact, after your PR blitz, other people did start finding their unclaimed money, right?
There was a man that heard us on the air talking about what we were doing and when we had the check presentation later that morning he showed up and had done the same thing and had received several $100 for overpayment of gas bills. And he wrote a check to the same charity we did.
Chris Miller of Dutch Miller Auto —and now an unclaimed money evangelist, thank you so much for speaking with me.