Treasure Hunting — Unclaimed Assets

By Terry Hogan

In the interest of having my readers’ best interest in mind, have I got a deal for you! Illinois is trying to give you your money and goods back. Have you got a bank account you forgot about? Did you or a parent forget about a safety deposit box? Have you got assets just waiting to be claimed? You might have. Now I know this is a bit of a deviation from the normal subject of my column. But I figured it was time to reward you few who take the time to see if I have finally written something of interest to you. This should be worth the time.

If you are computer literate or have a friend or relative who is, you can do a few quick searches on a State of Illinois data base and find out if you may have unexpected assets just waiting for you to claim, at no cost. Sounds like a scam? It’s not. It is legitimate. But if you are not Internet-connected but still want to see if you have unclaimed property, you can also resort to the telephone. The numbers are: 1-866-458-7327,  217-785-6998, or 217-782-2211.

The Illinois State Treasurer's Office is the holder of unclaimed property. It has set up a searchable database where you can type in your name and city and search to see if you have left something behind.

And there are a lot of opportunities. For example, there are more than a few Johnsons in Galesburg. So I went to the home page, typed in "Johnson", with no first name, and then typed "Galesburg". I got 110 "hits". That is, I got 110 data files for Johnsons in Galesburg who had unclaimed property. I did a quick look and it was obvious that this did not mean there were 110 different Johnsons, as some folks had multiple entries (based on the first name and street address). For example, if you are Barbara Johnson and live, or had lived on Franklin Avenue, you have at least 4 entries.

And while you are there, searching your own name, don’t forget to check for parents, siblings, cousins, and what have you. Business names are also searchable. It is treasure hunting without having to leave the comfort of your computer screen.

If you find a hit, there are downloadable forms to complete and mail in, along with required proof, but it is not a major undertaking.

The hard part is the waiting. The lag time for Illinois to receive, process, and provide the unclaimed property is about a year, according to a representative whom I talked with. So patience is a virtue. Don’t run out and buy a new car on the expectation of a quick turnaround!

Have I got you hooked? Are you ready to find out if you have treasure ready to claim? The internet address is Once you get the screen up, click on the "Owners" bright blue button on the screen. This will bring up the "Inquiry Search Page". You then type the last name and the first name (no comma). To the right, you can add the name of the city, if you want to reduce the number of "hits". Then click the "Search" button and wait to see if you found treasure.

You can repeat the search for different localities and for different names. You can also search just by a surname and scan all the hits, but I wouldn’t try that with a really common last name unless you have lots of time. For example, just searching on the name "Hogan", without a city location, you will get 872 hits. And Hogan isn’t all that common. If you are a Brown and do the surname search without location, you’ll get 13,342 hits. If you try again and add a first name, e.g. "Lois" with the last name "Brown", you’ll get only 18 hits. If you do it again and add "Galesburg" as a third search item (location), you’ll get no hits.

So, what are you waiting for? Again, it is for Internet search or 1-866-458-7327, 217-785-6998, or 217-782-2211 if you want to call.

If you score big, don’t forget the guy who told you about it. I can wait a year. I think 10% of "the take" in small denomination bills seems fair.