What is Unclaimed Money in Oregon?
Unclaimed money means any sum of money held by a person or organization (e.g., a bank) that has not been accessed by the rightful owner for a specified length of time. This money can be traveler's checks, tax refunds, uncashed payroll checks or dividends, pension funds, stocks and securities, life insurance policies, estate proceeds, savings or checking accounts, investment accounts, credit balances, security deposits, and other funds whose owners are unknown or cannot be located.
Generally, the time that must elapse before money becomes "unclaimed" varies based on the type of money. Once this designated period (known as the dormancy period) passes, the financial institution or other entity (the holder) having custody of the abandoned account or asset will report or transfer it to the government. The process whereby the government assumes temporary ownership of the funds is termed escheatment.
In Oregon, the agency that takes possession of unclaimed money (otherwise called unclaimed property by the state) is the State Treasury. In line with the state laws on unclaimed property - Chapter 170, Division 140 of the Oregon Administrative Rules (OAR); 98.302 through 98.436 and 98.991 to 98.992 of the Oregon Revised Statutes (ORS) - the State Treasury safeguards the funds or assets until the legitimate owners can claim them.
How to Find Unclaimed Money in Oregon
Anyone who suspects that they have unclaimed money in Oregon should begin their search with the Oregon State Treasury. The Unit is responsible for reuniting residents and other parties with their lost or abandoned assets in Oregon.
The State Treasury maintains a publicly accessible database online to aid remote searches for unclaimed property. Inquirers can search this database with a last or business name and first name. While it is possible to find Oregon unclaimed money with a city name, ZIP code, or Property ID through the website, these are all optional keywords that should be combined with a full name to streamline a search.
Individuals who prefer to peruse physical copies of the government list of unclaimed money or want to make other in-person/telephone inquiries can contact the State Treasury directly:
Oregon State Treasury
Unclaimed Property Program
867 Hawthorne Avenue South East
Salem, OR 97301
Phone: (503) 378-4000
How Do I Find Oregon Unclaimed Money for Free?
The Oregon State Treasury does not charge fees to individuals who want to search for unclaimed money in its database. The service is free to any member of the public, not necessarily only citizens of the state.
Interestingly, Oregonians and other persons with unclaimed property can also access free databases or government lists of unclaimed money through several federal agencies. The agency to query will depend on the type of money a person wishes to recover - for example, unclaimed veterans' insurance funds and wages.
Unclaimed Veterans' Life Insurance Funds
Individuals who served in the armed forces (veterans) may be owed money by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). The VA provides several comprehensive benefit programs and vital services to former service members, including those who sustained an injury while serving, died, or lost their jobs. These programs cover education, home loans, life insurance, disability compensation, medical care, and more.
Certain programs like the VA's life insurance policy involve payments (death awards, premium refunds, dividend checks) mailed to veterans or their beneficiaries. As a result, there is every chance that the VA would be unable to trace a policyholder or beneficiary, and funds would be returned to the agency. While the VA eventually declares these funds unclaimed after some time, the agency keeps the money until the rightful owner can claim it. According to the department, some of these funds have remained in its custody for years.
The VA encourages veterans or family members to search its database for unclaimed life insurance funds. (However, this database does not include cash from Servicemembers' Group Life Insurance or Veterans' Group Life Insurance policies from 1965 to date.) Alternatively, a citizen of Oregon can reach out to the Portland Regional Benefits Office for the information (see other VA locations) or call the Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA) at (800) 827-1000. The call hours are Monday through Friday, 8.00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. (ET).
Unclaimed Wages and Pensions
Oregonians whose employers violated labor laws may recover back wages from the Wage and Hour Division (WHD), a unit within the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL). Interested individuals can search the Workers Owed Wages (WOW) database with an employer's name to check for unclaimed funds. It is also possible to contact the WHD at (866) 487-9243 with inquiries.
Meanwhile, persons owed pension funds from companies that folded or terminated a defined pension plan can contact the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC). The number to call is (800) 400-7242.
Further information about locating other types of unclaimed money held by federal agencies, including bankruptcy funds, international unclaimed money, and tax refund checks, is available on the U.S. government's official website.
How to Claim Unclaimed Money in Oregon
Per the Oregon legislature, any person who has a legitimate right to unclaimed money in Oregon is called a "claimant". This includes the rightful owner, an attorney-in-fact, a personal representative, a bankruptcy trustee, an heir, and others listed in OAR (170) 140-0005(4). Such persons can follow these steps to claim unclaimed money in Oregon:
Step 1: Search for the Money
- Go to the Oregon State Treasury's Unclaimed Property Search database.
- Enter a last or business name and first name. Then click "Search".
- Click "Claim" next to the money. Then click the "Continue to File Claim" button to start the claims process.
Step 2: File the Claim
- Verify the selected funds and click "Next" to proceed to the "Claimant Information" page.
- Provide the required claimant information. This includes an email address and a mailing address where the claimant wishes to receive the funds. One will also need to state their relationship to the owner of the money, whether they are the owner themselves, an heir, or a representative. Subsequently, the applicant can click "Next" to preview the funds being claimed and verify their mailing address.
- Click "Submit" to create the claim and generate a claim number.
Step 3: Submit the Required Documentation
Most claims to the Oregon State Treasury must be submitted with specific documentation. The agency will send a list of the proper documentation to the claimant's email address. This list differs according to the complexity of a claim, but the following are frequently requested:
- A copy of a current photo ID issued by the government
- Proof of social security number. For example, a tax document or other legal document bearing one's social security number, or a copy of one's social security card
- Proof of one's current mailing address
A claimant can upload and submit the required documents via the State Treasury's secure link (according to the stated specifications) or mail them to the agency at the following address:
Oregon State Treasury
Unclaimed Property Program
867 Hawthorne Avenue South East
Salem, OR 97301
Subsequently, the claimant can enter their claim number, which can be found on the claim form or in the email received during submission, into the agency's claim status page to check the progress of their claim. Individuals who have forgotten or lost their claim number can email the agency at email@example.com or call (503) 378-4000.
Note that the Oregon State Treasury only accepts electronic claim submissions from members of the public. There are no in-person or mail-in claim submission options (except to submit the required claim documentation).
How Long Does It Take to Get Unclaimed Money in Oregon?
The time to recover unclaimed or abandoned money in Oregon varies. Ordinarily, the Oregon State Treasury attempts to process claims within 120 days, but the reality is that claims can take as long as 10 months to be processed, depending on the claim type and the agency's workload. However, the agency does note that persons or businesses whose claims are under $2,500 are more likely to receive approval on the same day and collect their money in some weeks.
The Oregon State Treasury advises claimants with urgent cash needs to notify them, as it might be possible to expedite processing times.
Who Can Claim Unclaimed Money From Deceased Relatives in Oregon?
To claim unclaimed money from a deceased relative in Oregon, an individual must be one of the decedent's closest relatives or mentioned in court documents as a successor or heir.
Even so, the claimant will have to provide certain documents to the State Treasury to recover funds owed to the deceased. These documents may include:
- Proof of death (e.g., a death certificate)
- Evidence of the claimant's relationship to the deceased
- Probate documents certified by the court
What Happens to Oregon Unclaimed Money if No One Claims It?
Nothing happens to Unclaimed Money in Oregon if no one claims it, as there is no time limit to recover it. Any fund marked as unclaimed and transferred to the State of Oregon remains in the care of the Oregon State Treasury until the rightful owner submits a claim. Otherwise, as part of Oregon's Unclaimed Property Program, the State Treasury will continue to make diligent efforts (via advertisements, for example) to locate the owners.
Can Someone in Oregon Claim Unclaimed Money From Another State?
Yes. In the span of one lifetime, an Oregon resident could conduct multiple financial transactions in several states, relocate for work or family, become legally entitled to an estate, and so on. All these create opportunities for one to have unclaimed money in other U.S. states.
Oregonians who discover unclaimed money in another state can file a claim with the relevant state agency. Each state has its claims process. However, a claimant should be prepared to submit a request (typically online) to the state's unclaimed property custodian, together with documents or items that establish their identity and support their claim.