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'Treasure Hunt’: Unclaimed property may be waiting for you

The state reports 1 in 5 Floridians have unclaimed property

The state reports its holding property for one in five Floridians. (Capitol News Service)

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – If you’re sitting around at home during the coronavirus pandemic, you might think about searching for treasure.

Not buried treasure, but unclaimed property being held by the state.

After accounts have been inactive for seven years, state law requires banks and others to turn over the unclaimed assets to the state.

The state reports its holding property for one in five Floridians.

Radio personality Shane Collins said he got bored during the pandemic, searched FLTreasureHunt.gov on a lark and hit the jackpot.

“I just put in my name and started searching,” Collins said. “Literally, there were, I don’t mind telling you, thousands of dollars in my name that I had no clue about. If I had not searched that website, I would not have found that money.”

Along with individuals, 1.3 million businesses have unclaimed property totaling nearly half a billion dollars.

“I put in my name -- my first name, my middle initial. And then I did it with my middle initial and my last name, and it pulled up different accounts all across the state of Florida where I had worked in broadcasting or where I had lived or made business transactions,” Collins said.

Collins said the good fortune couldn’t have come at a better time.

“I couldn’t believe the amount of money that was sitting in ... the state fund for years," Collins said. “Now, it’s coming back to me and my family at the perfect time. We are so grateful.”

The real property ends up in a vault in the state capital.

It’s usually auctioned in the spring, but this year’s auction has been delayed until fall.

And fear not, if the state has already sold your treasure, you’re still entitled to the money that it brought in. The proceeds from any property or cash not claimed goes into the state education fund.

And there is more good news: You never lose the ability to claim what’s rightfully yours, even decades later.