Performing Search and Rescue of a Missing CD

Dear Dr. Don,

Back in 1996, I purchased a certificate of deposit. It matured in six months. I forgot about it until recently when I came across my paperwork. The bank had since merged, and I have married and moved. I went to cash in the CD, and the bank is telling me there is no record of it. They say they don't keep receipts after seven years and gave me a number to call for unclaimed property. They also were not finding anything for me.

What is the next step for me in getting this matter resolved? Any help will be greatly appreciated

-Cheryl Confiscated

Dear Cheryl,

If you bought that CD today, there probably would probably be an automatic renewal feature, and the CD would roll over into another six-month maturity, over and over again. That's a different trap CD investors fall into. They invest short and roll, staying locked into low short-term yields.

The bank did give you the correct information. You need to claim the money from the state. It's called "escheat property," and the bank was required to turn it over to the state. The timing of the transfer will vary by state, but it's based on a lack of activity in the account or the bank's inability to contact the account owner.

The money is still yours; the government is just holding it for you. You can get it back by claiming the funds. It's pretty easy to do; just check out the unclaimed property website for your state. I've had fun using these sites to search for unclaimed property for relatives, with limited success. It seems my family keeps good tabs on their bank accounts.

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