California is raising the bar when it comes to unclaimed property. Controller Chiang was successful in his bid to allow his office to notify owners of unclaimed and abandoned assets, prior to these assets being transferred to California´s Unclaimed Property Division, from businesses and banks. These could always still be claimed, but once transferred to the State, it would simply takes longer for the rightful owner of the unclaimed money to get it back, says Edward Palonek, founder of, the first online database that was made available to individuals and business to search for lost and forgotten money.

In 2007, the first year of the new law, California´s Controller's Office sent out more that 2.5 million notices to property owners of unclaimed and abandoned cash and other assets. If the law was not changed only 499,000 would have been sent out.

Since January 2007, when Controller Chiang took office and until April 2012, he has reunited unclaimed property owners of over $2.1 billion of property.  $1.3 billion of that was already in the hands of the unclaimed property department, while $767.7 million was reclaimed by owners before the property was sent to the State. In stocks alone, Controller Chiang returned 157 million stocks and securities that were lost or abandoned in his first four years of his administration. This was more than 25 times the amount returned to owners during the previous decade.

The highest amount of unclaimed money that was ever returned in a given year was fiscal 2009/10 when almost $47 million in securities was returned to happy owners of the unclaimed property. In 2010/11 over $39 million had been returned.

“Many Californian´s could use some extra cash right now to help pay off small bills and can help in locating some this unclaimed money”, says Palonek.