Unclaimed property nets $1 million for Tulsa woman

"State Treasurer Scott Meacham made me an instant millionaire," according to a retired Tulsa woman who recently received cash and stock worth more than $940,000 from Meacham’s unclaimed property program.

Until contacted by staff in the treasurer’s unclaimed property division, the woman, who asked that her name not be used, thought her property was lost forever after stock certificates she had inherited from her father were destroyed.

Meacham’s office was able to find the Tulsa woman, but not until two staff members drove to Tulsa and knocked on her door. She did not have a listed phone number and was living in an apartment building.

"My employees did some excellent detective work to track down this lady," Meacham said.

When he took the reigns of the treasurer’s office a few years ago, Meacham assigned additional staff to proactively search for unclaimed property holders. Since then, the number of claims paid has jumped 52 percent and the amount of money returned has increased by 26 percent.

The cash and stock for the Tulsa woman first began arriving in the unclaimed property program 12 years ago. The companies that held her stock had been unable to reach her. After holding the stock for a few years, the law required the treasurer’s office to sell some of the stock and hold the cash for its rightful owner.

The woman was given a check for more than $404,000 representing the proceeds of the stock sales. She was also presented with 7,258 shares of stock valued at approximately $536,000 from such companies as Mobil, Exxon, General Electric and Coca-Cola.

The stock was inherited many years ago from the woman’s father. The woman, formerly a school teacher, is now retired.

"The treasurer’s staff went out of their way to help me get my lost money. They helped me fill out the proper forms and made sure I knew what was happening at every step," she said.

"My experience could not have been better. I would urge everyone to look today to see if Treasurer Meacham is holding unclaimed property for you!"

Meacham operates a searchable database on his office’s web site, www.treasurer.ok.gov. Visitors should click on the black and gold "Search for Unclaimed Property" button near the top of the page.  "We are holding $260 million for 350,000 Oklahomans and we’d like to give it back," Meacham said.

Unclaimed property includes cash, rebates, paychecks, royalties, stock, bonds and safe deposit box contents.

When businesses lose track of people to whom they owe money, the law requires them to bring the property, along with the owner’s name and last known address, to Treasurer Meacham’s office.

Meacham operates the online search page on the web site, publishes the names in state newspapers and conducts other outreach – such as booths at the Tulsa and Oklahoma City state fairs – to help reunite Oklahomans with their cash and other property.