Town Square

State of CA is after your savings account

Original post made by Laura, Another Pleasanton neighborhood, on Apr 3, 2013

So - I get a letter from my credit union saying the State of CA is going to take my savings account unless I do something in the next 3 weeks. The savings account in question is a HSA set up in my name only 3 years ago, in which to deposit catchup funds, and I hadn't used it since. My husband and I have a joint HSA related to this account at the same credit union.

I had no idea that the state took your money if the account was inactive - especially if you have other accounts that you regularly use at the same credit union, and if the money is being saved to use for medical expenses. This seems a bit of a stretch for unclaimed property laws - what do you think? Is this really old news, or is the state going overboard in their definition of "unclaimed"? I'm a little alarmed - thought my money was safe in the bank. Guess not.


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Posted by nancy s.
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Apr 3, 2013 at 5:18 pm

Laura - The State of California is NOT taking your money. Your savings institution is turning it over to them per law. It goes into the states unclaimed funds department and you can retrieve it from there.

The laws have changed, it used to be any account or funds inactive/ not dispersed within 5 years went to the states unclaimed funds department. They have now moved it up to 3 years. It is per account, not per holder. So you can have numerous accounts at the same institution, but if one is inactive for 3 years, it has to be turned over to the state. This does not just apply to banks. Deposits on utilities, cell phones etc. wind up here to. Usually people have moved and there is no forwarding address or the mail forwarding has expired.

Here is the link: Web Link

Your financial institution should have explained it to you better.

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Posted by agenda21
a resident of Del Prado
on Apr 3, 2013 at 5:36 pm

Laura- Get YOUR money in YOUR hands ASAP !!! The state is stealing YOUR money. It doesn't matter what the stranger above says. Get YOUR money.

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Posted by nancy s.
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Apr 3, 2013 at 6:04 pm

@agenda21 or should I just call you PARANOID. Go to the website. Do some research.


I also want to share with you the significant improvements that my office has made:

Notifying Owners Before Their Property Is Sent To The State: For two decades, misguided state laws restricted the State Controller's Office from contacting the owners of more than 80% of all unclaimed property accounts sent to the State. In August 2007, the Legislature passed and the Governor signed legislation I sponsored that allows my office to send property owners notices before their property is transferred to the State. In Fiscal Year 2010-11, those notices resulted in 418,566 properties being claimed before they were even sent to the State. From January 2007 through the end of April 2012, my office sent out 7.5 million notices -- 5.1 million warning owners their property was about to be sent to the State, and another 2.4 million notifying owners their property had been sent to the State.

Established A Locator Unit: We re-established a unit that aggressively finds and tracks down owners to reunite them with their property. Our priority is to notify owners who had never received a notice due to the previous restrictions on our ability to notify owners.

Retention Period for Property of no Commercial Value: In January 2012, the Legislature passed and the Governor signed legislation I sponsored that allows the State Controller to keep property deemed as having no commercial value for seven years, instead of 18 months. This provides more time for owners to claim family heirlooms, photos, and other items that may have special value to them.

Upgraded The Claims Processing System: The new database system allows staff to more easily search for properties and process claims more efficiently. We also have begun posting properties to our unclaimed property search page on the Internet within weeks after they are reported by businesses transferring the property, rather than taking a year before posting the properties.

In just the first year after these reforms, we were able to send out 2.5 million notices; more than double the 1.2 million notices we sent during the past decade. Without these reforms, only 499,000 notices would have been mailed to owners, instead of the 7.5 million notices mailed through the end of April 2012.

I also successfully sponsored legislation to protect owners by prohibiting financial institutions from sending the contents of safe deposit boxes to the State if the owner has other active accounts. The law prohibits the transfer of other “inactive” accounts if the owner has an active IRA. The law also requires businesses seeking to avoid liability for wrongly sending property to the State to prove they sent due diligence notices informing owners that their property was about to be sent to the State. This provision gives property owners an important legal remedy against the business should they suffer a loss due to the business' failure to properly notify the owner.

I want Californians to know that I am putting them first. I realize there is much more work to do, and I will continue to improve the State's ability to put property back in the rightful owners' hands.

Reforms I Am Pursuing:
Restore interest paid on claims.
Impose strict penalties on banks, utility companies, and other businesses that fail to comply with the law and notify their customers of unclaimed property they are holding.

I will continue to pursue reforms to the Unclaimed Property Program and invite your suggestions and support along the way. My intent is to restore the public's confidence that their lost property will be safeguarded by the State until property owners can claim what is rightfully theirs.


California State Controller

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Posted by Laura
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Apr 3, 2013 at 6:23 pm

@nancy s. - thank you for your information, and your serious response to my request for comment. Ignore "agenda21" - just another one of the forum trolls that I believe is trying to make the point that one should not be concerned with personal possessions. One reason I don't use this forum much. So boring.