HOUSTON — Editor's note: The above video originally aired in 2019.
While a lot of people are pinching pennies and cutting corners these days, they might be missing out on free money from the state of Texas.
The Unclaimed Property Division at the Texas Comptroller’s Office has billions of dollars that belong to Texans who haven't come forward to collect it. The money comes from things like abandoned bank accounts, overpayments on medical and utility bills, and refunds or rebates belonging to customers.
“Any kind of payment that is owed to you that you don't take any action on, after a few years, companies are required to report it to the comptroller's office as unclaimed property,” assistant director Bryant Clayton told us in 2019. “Most of the time it’s things like folks received a check but didn’t realize that was what was in the envelope, so they threw it out."
The state has a searchable website with every listing of unclaimed money across Texas. Just type in your name and cross your fingers.
According to its website, Texas has already returned more than $3 billion.
There is more than just money waiting to be claimed. The state comptroller’s office owns a Texas-sized bank vault full of unclaimed valuables recovered from abandoned safety deposit boxes.
Last time we checked, there were diamond rings and necklaces, a pure gold bar worth about $130,000, a math book by Sir Isaac Newton and even a framed lock of John Lennon’s hair. All the items belong to someone, but if they or their relatives don't claim them, they get auctioned on eBay.
“We try our very best through various outreach methods to let them know about us and about our website and how to claim their funds,” Clayton said.
Look who has unclaimed $$$?
We decided to check the website for a few well-known Houstonians.
Jim "Mattress Mack" McIngvale has $500 coming to him from 2015.
We didn't find any current Houston Astros on the website but Hall of Famer Craig Biggio has over $800 waiting for him from 2008 to 2022.
His buddy and fellow Hall of Famer Jeff Bagwell has more than $2,800.
Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo can claim a 2015 check for $49.50 from Stanford where she attended college.
The state owes Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner over $600.
The City of Houston is also on the list. In fact, there are a whopping 15 pages of refunds listed for the city just waiting to be claimed.
When we first brought you this story in 2019, we discovered KHOU 11 news anchors Len Cannon and Mia Gradney had unclaimed property. We checked back and it looks like Gradney claimed her $155.63 from unpaid wages but Cannon's $36.49 check is still waiting for him.
How to file for unclaimed property
The process is relatively simple.
- Log on to the website and type in your first and last name.
- If you have unclaimed property, press the “claim” tab on the left side of the screen.
- Upload the signed claim form and the required documentation to prove ownership.
The Texas Comptroller’s Office said the processing time is different for different claim types and the average turnaround time for all claim types is 37 working days.