SALEM, Ore. – Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber isn't hard to find. His office is in Salem and he works in the state capitol. But apparently when Kitzhaber was owed money, somebody couldn't find him, so they sent the cash to the state's unclaimed property division.
According to a state database, Kitzhaber has between $50 and $100 waiting for him. And he's not alone.
A KGW investigation found millions of Oregonians unknowingly have money waiting for them. The Department of State Lands is currently holding $472 million dollars in unclaimed cash and property.
"The actual funds never go away," said Patrick Tate, Unclaimed Property Manager for Oregon Department of State Lands. "They are waiting here for the owner."
The funds come from a variety of sources, including bank accounts, payroll checks and refunds. The state of Oregon tries to contact owners with claims of $250 or more. Still, most unclaimed property is less than $50, which means most people are never notified.
A random sampling on the streets of Salem found many people have money available.
"Woohoo!" said one woman after searching the database. "That's amazing," exclaimed another woman who realized she had more than $100 dollars waiting. "That is wonderful!"
Other states aggressively try to find the rightful owners of unclaimed property. Last year, California sent out 1.16 million letters by mail notifying owners of unclaimed property.
Many cities have money waiting to be claimed. The city of Portland has $23,108.81 in unclaimed property. Portland Public Schools has $348 available.
State agencies including the Departments of Agriculture, Education, Energy, Environmental Quality, Forestry, Human Services, Justice, Motor Vehicles, Revenue, Transportation and Veterans' Affairs all have funds available.
"When they feel like they want to claim it back, we are ready to do that," said Tate.
To claim your money, the state requires you mail documentation including a copy of your ID, a copy of Social Security number and a signed notary. Other states like California and Washington have online claim forms.
The money waiting to be claimed sits in trust in the Common School Fund. Interest from the fund goes to Oregon's K-12 public schools.