The Lee County Clerk of Courts office is currently holding $97,000 worth of unclaimed checks, many of which will be sent back to the state if their owners do not collect them by the end of April.
Once a year the Clerk’s office is required to send any checks that have been left unclaimed back to the Florida Department of Financial Services.
As of February 2, 1,589 are being held in the Lee Clerk’s office while the Collier Clerk of Courts had 917 checks waiting to be claimed, as of January 31.
Rita Miller, a spokesperson for the Lee Clerk, said that the structure of the county government accounts for the volume of checks that come through the office.
“In Lee County we are the chief financial officer, so we issue check on behalf of the county and Department of Transportation, and also the clerk,” Miller said.
The county sends checks to individuals for a wide variety of reasons, including jury duty services, utility deposits and credit balances, as well as tax deed and foreclosure sales. A large number of vendors also supply goods and services to the county, some of which have multiple checks waiting to be claimed.
Notices have not been sent to the recipients of the unclaimed monies, but all of the checks have been previously mailed to their owners and have been returned back to the clerk for various reasons.
“Perhaps we don’t have a current address,” said Miller. “Perhaps they have moved and they haven’t notified us. Maybe they have gone out of business if they are a company.”
Along with money owned by the Board of County Commissioners or the Department of Transportation, the Clerk’s office also handles the return of money paid to the court in the form of bonds by those that have been incarcerated. Those unclaimed funds are returned to the state at a separate date near the end of August.
There are plenty of $10 and $20 checks waiting for their owners to claim them, but some of the checks are written for four or five figure amounts. The largest single amount of unclaimed sits at $20,000. The situation is similar in Collier, with checks of $15 to $45 mixed with amounts in the thousands or tens of thousands.
“If someone owed me $20,000 I’d be looking,” Miller said with a chuckle.
Anyone who thinks that there may be a check with their name on it sitting at the Clerk’s office can visit http://leeflclerk.govoffice3.com/ and click on unclaimed funds to see if they are eligible. Owners will need to fill out a form and have it notarized by the end of April in order to claim the funds before they are sent back to the state.
Collier residents can do the same by visiting https://www.collierclerk.com/ .
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