Like most states, the Great Payback Colorado program lets citizens search for Colorado unclaimed property for free. When you find Colorado unclaimed funds, or your Colorado lost property, you can look for payback.
The Great Colorado Payback
With a bit of corny name, the State of Colorado hopes to catch the attention of the people of Colorado and let them know that the State might be in possession of money that belongs to them.
Where Does Colorado Unclaimed Property Come From?
Contrary to popular belief the Great Payback Colorado program is not a contest. It is not a lottery. It is not a game. It is a way to get unclaimed money Colorado has on hold for you. There is no way to get extra money.
When a bank, or other business, or organization has money or other property that belongs to a customer, they contact that customer and remind them about it. If they are a former customer, they will try the last address, and phone number on record. If they cannot find the owner of the money after a certain amount of time, they turn the account over to the State. The state holds unclaimed property in hopes of returning it to its rightful owner (and earns interest on it along the way).
Who Runs Colorado’s Unclaimed Property Program?
The Colorado Treasurer is charged with holding the funds and distributing them to people who claim their formerly unclaimed property. Colorado has in turn farmed out the unclaimed property website to a what sounds like a Colorado unclaimed property scam. The long, that sounds suspicious domain name, is one reason people worry that the unclaimed property website is not legit. It is. If you would like to prove it to yourself, find the Treasurer on Colorado’s official Colorado.gov webpage and click on the unclaimed property link.
You may remember the Colorado Department of Treasury as the nice people who took your state income tax payments. The giveth, and they taketh away.
Who leaves money behind?
If you think that it is only a bunch of rich people forgetting about money from last year’s diamond sale, you are mistaken.
Most of the money that ends up with the state are small amounts that were not so much left behind and forgotten as they were never known about in the first place. Here are some of the most common unclaimed property categories.
- Interest credited after the account was emptied
- Deposits for items like a locker key.
- Bank accounts that you don’t use anymore
- Money you were going to use online (gambling, betting, subscribing) but then didn’t use all of
- Minimum deposits to have a bank account or credit union membership account
- Utility bills – Lots of people leave in the middle of the month, pay the final bill and disappear before they can prorate the amount
- Utility hookup deposits – You gave the gas company $25 in order for them to start service with you. Then, a few years later you move and don’t remember
- Roommates – Are a common cause of unclaimed property. Did you get the deposit back? If you didn’t, I didn’t…
- Online investing accounts – No, Warren Buffet didn’t leave behind a few million dollars somewhere, but you might have. Remember when you were going to day-trade your way to riches? Maybe the investments didn’t go so well, and you only had a few bucks left? Maybe you thought you cleared the account out, but dividends were coming and ended up depositing $3 or $4 that you never knew was there
- Getting rarer but still occasionally people leave behind financial aid college money.
How Do I Get My Money Back from Unclaimed Property
The first step is to go to the Colorado Unclaimed Property Website. Type in your name to search. This works a lot better if your name is uncommon. For those of you John Smith’s out there, you can use the fields to narrow it down, or you can just keep scrolling. A middle initial can help here too, but if you’re like me and you don’t use your middle initial most of the time it won’t be that much help.
Once you find money you think is yours, you click the box. Keep searching and clicking until you have all (or as many as you are willing to look for this time) of your property claims checked. It is possible that you will get someone else’s unclaimed property, but it is not likely.
After you check your boxes click next and then you have to sign your name electronically and then…
Most people lose interest here, but you need to watch out for an email that provides the next steps after the Great Colorado Payback website. Follow the instructions on the email to claim your unclaimed property from the state.