Portage Count Unclaimed Funds Reviewed

Max Hayden

There are thousands of dollars waiting to be claimed, according to the Portage County website.

Every year, large sums of money are collected through the county and state because of over-payments of different state funds, said Steve Shanafelt Portage County treasurer.

Shanafelt said his office deals with the unclaimed funds collected by the state. The county receives a list each year from Columbus of all the people who are owed money. The money waits to be collected in an unclaimed funds account in Columbus.

“Most of the money comes from over-payments in taxes and insurance,” said Shanafelt.

Other sources of money may come from over-payments in court fees, land ownership and life insurance, Shanafelt said.

“We’re required by law to contact the people with tax over-payments,” Shanafelt said. “But the rest just sits there waiting to be claimed.”

While the county posts bulletins across the area advertising the list, most of the money is not claimed, Shanafelt said.

The amount of money from the state ranges anywhere from a few cents to thousands of dollars per person, Shanafelt said. The full list can be found at the Portage County Treasurer’s website.

In order for money to be claimed, a person must go to the Portage County Administration Building and fill out an unclaimed money form, Shanafelt said. Then, once the form is filled out the person must mail it to Columbus.

A more detailed claim form will then be mailed in order to provide evidence that the unclaimed money is yours said Shanafelt. After the claim is verified, a check will be mailed to you.

“If the money owed is under a certain amount, say less than the price of the two stamps needed to receive the check, then people think it’s not worth the hassle,” Shanafelt said.

There is a separate list of unclaimed funds through the county instead of the state. This money is collected by the Portage Count Auditor’s office.

The county’s unclaimed money list mostly comes from over-payments in vender payments, refund checks or unclaimed payroll checks said Portage County Auditor Janet Esposito.

“We try to call the people who are owed money,” Esposito said. “But the people are mostly transient and are not here anymore.”

The county’s unclaimed funds are available to be claimed for five years, said Esposito. Then, in the sixth year, the money is transferred to the a general fund for the county to use.

“Last year we collected almost $200,000 in unclaimed money,” said Esposito. “The amount varies from year to year, though.”

While the Portage County’s unclaimed funds list is not currently available online, Esposito said. She tries to make it available anytime during the office hours as well as at the Portage County Fair every August.

Similar to the state unclaimed fund list, if a person’s name is on the list, they must come to the auditor’s office to provide evidence that the money is theirs, said Maureen Bennett, Accounting Department supervisor.

If the unclaimed money is due to tax over-payments, the Auditor’s office prefers for the individuals claiming the money to go through the Treasurer’s office, Gullett said.

In certain cases, the overpayment may not belong to the person but rather the mortgage company. Gullett said a person can distinguish the difference between the money they own and what the mortgage companies own by special parcel or registration numbers found on the list.