New Jersey is holding on to more than $4.5 billion that doesn't belong to the state.

A big chunk of that money could have your name on it. And finding out if you're in line for a windfall, or even a couple bucks, is as simple as searching for your name on a website.

Under the law, banks, insurance companies, utility companies and other entities are required to hand over to the state the assets of accounts that have been dormant for years. New Jersey then takes responsibility for that property until it's returned to the rightful owner or their heirs.

"You never know whether or not you forgot about a savings account, a checking account," said Steve Harris, Unclaimed Property Administrator. "Or you didn't cash your last paycheck, or your mom and dad might have bought you some stock certificates."

And the unclaimed money earns interest from the time it's received by the state until the time it's paid out to its true owner.

The Unclaimed Property Administration, which falls under the purview of the Department of the Treasury, returned $142.6 million to 50,837 rightful owners and heirs in Fiscal Year 2018. One claim was worth more than $3.6 million. Since its inception, the program has returned approximately $1.73 billion.

The database features more than 3.2 million records in New Jersey.

Once an individual files a claim, receiving payment can take a couple weeks to a couple months, depending on the case, Harris said.

The UPA's Outreach Unit makes several attempts annually to reunite owners with unclaimed assets. Efforts include partnering with legislators in all 40 districts to send mailers to constituents who are in line for money they likely never knew about.

Names and addresses of unclaimed property owners are also printed twice a year in newspapers throughout the state. Advertisements next week will feature the names of approximately 165,800 New Jersey residents whose property worth $100 or more was remitted to the state in FY2018.

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