The other day I was listening to a Planet Money episode on the topic of escheatment or unclaimed property. It was a fascinating episode, including a dude who lost thousands of dollars in stock gains all because he didn’t log into his etrade account for years. And the key takeaway from the episode is maybe you, dear reader, have some lost property that’s ready for the claiming.
Frankly, if I had listened to this episode a few years ago, I would have scoffed at the absurdity of this happening to me. I’m pretty diligent at keeping the address on all of my accounts up to date, cashing my paychecks (when they aren’t digital) and being aware of all of my bank accounts.
Imagine my surprise when I got an email from my sister in late 2016, telling me that she had found hits on my name when trolling Utah’s Unclaimed Property website. Curious about what she found, I logged in.
Sure enough, there was money waiting for me and they wouldn’t tell me the amount but it was greater than $100. Mysteriously, the money was from a large tech company that I’d never worked for: “MudInc”.
Well, I hadn’t directly worked for them.
The Dot Com Bubble
Rewind your VHS player to 2000, the months before the dot-com implosion. I’m one of the ~150 employees working for “DotComInc”, a small tech company in Orem, UT. I worked for DotComInc full time during the summer before going to part-time in the fall as I continued my undergrad degree at the nearby university. Things were great, a larger company, “RoadkillCorp”, had announced they were going to buy us. True, I had no equity and I was working in a cube farm built inside of an industrial garage slinging PHP code around, but the future was bright. My first corporate holiday party with DotComInc was memorable.
Almost nearly as memorable was the impromptu company meeting in the middle of the cube farm where the founders explained that RoadkillCorp had become one of the early casualties of the dot-com bust and would not be buying us after all. And without RoadkillCorp and the no-funding environment of the dot-com bust, DotComInc would need to shed everyone in the meeting, about 50 people. Final paychecks at the door.
Christmas was a bummer the following week.
Pulling Out of the Dive
If memory serves, DotComInc did their second round of layoffs a few months later.
And then they pulled things around. They sold off the DotComInc brand and small business to another company, “TrueDnsInc”, and focused on the enterprise business. They renamed themselves to “UbiquiCorp”, and within 9 years they were acquired for $1.8 billion by MudInc. Wow.
I had of course moved on and was happily employed by “MegaCorp“. I still remember my team lead annoyingly remarking how much I lost out on by not being at DotComInc/UbiquiCorp when they were acquired by MudInc. Yeah, by my choice and with no equity. Jerk.
I thought that was the end of the story.
Show Me the Money
Imagine my surprise when I found that MudInc “owed” me money. It took 6 weeks to get the check for over $1200. While I waited, I reached out to some former coworkers at DotComInc to see what was up.
As it turns out, one of the founders had felt pretty bad about dumping us right before Christmas with no severance. Wanting to make it up to us, he tried to track us all down and try to recompense us. Pretty classy.
I had moved apartments four months after the layoff and had moved states by the time he tried to find me. The money just went on the books as unpaid salary/severance until I claimed it years later.
Which is how MudInc came to owe me money when I had never worked for them.
It might be worth your time to do a quick search in the states where you’ve lived for unclaimed property that might be yours. If you find anything, or have found anything, I’d love to hear about it.