One of my favorite sites on the Internet is www.osc.state.ny.us/cgi-bin/db2www/ouffrm.d2w/input. It is the site that allows you to search the New York State's Unclaimed Funds and see if the Office of Comptroller is holding any of your funds. You ask, "What are those funds? Let me take a quote from the site to explain.

"The State of New York is currently holding billions of dollars in unclaimed funds. Some of this money may belong to you!

For your protection, banks, insurance companies, utilities, investment companies and many other businesses are required by State law to surrender inactive accounts to the State. As State Comptroller, I serve as custodian of this money until you claim it. The State of New York never takes ownership of this money. If you can prove you are entitled to the money, I will gladly return it to you, at any time, without charge."

Most states have similar sites, which like New York have a simple online claims procedure. I have repeatedly advised accounting firms to put information about these sites in their client newsletters. I am sure both their individual and business clients that may find their names on the sites and recover the funds would be very appreciative.

Let me add another suggestion: Maybe the accounting firms themselves should do a search. Here's why. I recently went to the New York site to see if any of the Big Four were entitled to unclaimed funds. All four were there. Ernst & Young had 15 separate accounts, KPMG had 12; and Deloitte & Touche had six, but it grew to 16 if you just searched using  "Deloitte" including some listed as Deloitte Haskins & Sells. Pricewaterhouse had only seven, but if you did a search for "Coopers & Lybrand" there were 28 more accounts for unclaimed funds.

I thought I would write to each of the Big Four and let them know, but I am not sure exactly to which individuals I should be writing. So I am sure there are some readers of the column in the Big Four. Maybe you could forward this column to the proper party and let me now how much you get back. I don't want a finder's fee. Just interested in how much these unclaimed funds total.

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