PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – More than $3 million in unclaimed checks are being sent to Oregonians in February and millions more dollars will be sent in the coming months. 

The Oregon State Treasury is working to reunite Oregonians with funds that have remained unclaimed from the years 2018, 2019 and 2020. Unclaimed funds can include uncashed checks, forgotten bank accounts, tax refunds, credit card balances, investment accounts, payroll checks and more. 

Typically, people need to file a claim with Oregon’s Unclaimed Property Program to receive the funds they’re owed. But in 2023, the treasury office is conducting “Checks Without Claims” to proactively identify some owners of unclaimed assets and ship their payments directly to them. 

“We can verify a person’s identity and address and make sure that is the right person. We can send the check directly to those people,” State Treasurer Tobias Read told KOIN 6 News. 

The state sent letters to everyone they’ll mail a check to. 

In February, the treasury will send 8,000 checks to Oregonians that range from $50 to $10,000. 

Through the Checks Without Claims initiative, the treasury plans to return approximately $10 million in unclaimed funds to Oregonians by June 2023. 

In February, it will disburse payments to verified owners of unclaimed funds reported to the state in 2018. In April, it will send out unclaimed funds reported to the state in 2019 and in June, it will send unclaimed funds reported in 2020. 

The Oregon State Treasury took over responsibility for unclaimed property from the Oregon Department of State Lands about a year ago and is working to be more proactive in returning unclaimed funds to their rightful owners. Read said that’s why the treasury is trying to catch up on unclaimed funds that accumulated from 2018-2020. 

He hopes to continue this proactive approach rather than rely on Oregonians to contact the treasury in search of their missing funds. 

This is the largest mass disbursement of funds by Oregon’s Unclaimed Property Program to date. While returning $10 million to people may seem like a lot, it’s only a fraction of what remains to be claimed in Oregon. 

The state is currently holding more than $1 billion in unclaimed funds. 

Anyone can go to unclaimed.oregon.gov and search for their name to claim their funds. 

People who received letters informing them about forthcoming checks from the Checks Without Claims initiative should wait for the check to arrive rather than submit a claim online. 

While money remains unclaimed, it serves as the principal amount in the Common School Fund. The interest made off the money goes to support K-12 education in Oregon. Money can be removed from the principal amount at any time. 

“As much as we’re working to get money out, people are still forgetting new things. So, money comes in and we start the search anew for people who are the rightful owners of these funds,” Read said. 

The treasurer also reminds Oregonians the state holds onto unclaimed property, which can be reunited with its rightful owner or next of kin. These are things that are sometimes recovered from safe deposit boxes and can include items like jewelry, coins, art, books and military medals. 

If left unclaimed for an extended period of time, the state will eventually hold an auction for some items. For the more sentimental items, like military medals, the state will work to return them to family members

Read remembers one instance where he returned a bronze star to the daughter of a World War II veteran who fought in the Battle of Anzio. She was a member of the Umatilla Tribe. 

“That’s something I always think about because dollars and cents matter to people but it’s also these significant things that bring back memories and connections with people,” he said. 

Whether it’s money or a long-lost valuable item, Read recommends everyone take the time to check the Oregon State Treasury’s website to see if there’s something they can claim.