November 21, 2013

Unclaimed money heads to Champaign County treasurer’s office on November 30th

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Screen shot 2013-11-22 at 9.57.36 AM

Screen shot of Champaign County Circuit Clerk's list

By Pamela G. Dempsey/CU-CitizenAccess — Dozens of Champaign County residents – past and present – are set to lose more than $12,000 total by the end of November.

Known as “Abandoned Bonds,” the cash is from unclaimed money by those who posted bonds on court cases that have since been resolved.

At the close of a case, bond payments are returned to a resident by check via mail to the person’s address on file, said Katie Blakeman, Champaign County Circuit Clerk.

Most often for those on the list, the checks are sent back to the circuit clerk’s office because the recipient has moved.

“This happens a lot with students,” Blakeman said. “We have a very transient population in Champaign-Urbana.”

Follow-up letters are then sent out, but as they go to the only address on file, they too are typically returned, she said.

As required by law, the Champaign County Circuit Clerk’s office publishes its annual list of people who can claim the money on its website and in area newspapers. If still left unclaimed, it turns the money over to the county treasurer’s office on Nov. 30.

Notice is posted 65 days before the money is forwarded.

Abandoned bonds average about $12,000 each year, but just 5 percent are ever claimed, Blakeman said.

In 2012, Blakeman’s office had about $12,150 in abandoned funds.

For 2013, the amount is projected to be $12,200.

After the money is sent to the treasurer’s office, the office keeps it for five years before releasing it to the state’s unclaimed property fund.

As a service, the Champaign County Circuit Clerk’s office publishes all the names of those who have unclaimed bond payments for the past six years.

There are nearly 500 names on the latest list, which dates back six years.

To claim the money, a person has to fill out a form and provide identification.

Once the money lands in the county treasurer’s office, a person can still file a claim.

Blakeman said her office is looking at additional ways to make it easier for people to claim bond money, such as setting up a booth at local festivals or markets.

To claim money, please contact the Champaign County Circuit Clerk’s Office at (217) 384-3725.