COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — Three billion dollars is sitting in state coffers waiting for people to make a claim, and a bill heading to the Ohio Senate could make that even easier to do.

The Ohio Department of Commerce’s Unclaimed Funds (UNCFS) holds more than $3 billion in money owed to Ohioans.

Typically, the money owed is less than $100. It can be as high as thousands of dollars. In order to get the money, people need to go to MissingMoney.com and search by state to see if they are owed any cash.

When a company owes a person money and is unable to contact them, the business sends the money to Ohio’s Unclaimed Funds department.

“It’s our mission to reconnect the owners of those funds with their money,” said the Ohio Unclaimed Funds Superintendent Akil Hardy. “We’re trying to give it back to the citizens of Ohio.”

Many people consider the effort too cumbersome for the amount of money sitting in the fund and choose not to file a claim.

Rep. Derek Merrin (R-Monclova) introduced House Bill 348 with the hope of changing that scenario. Under the current law, if a family member dies, obtaining the unclaimed funds in their name comes with red tape.

“We are making it easier for people to access and locate their unclaimed funds,” said Merrin on his Statehouse web page. “The bill lightens the burden on businesses from a reporting standpoint… It modernizes the unclaimed funds’ statute, which has been neglected for decades.”

One of the goals is to create a simple process to claim descendants’ money without opening up estates.

Eliminates the “red tape” for survivors who are:

  • owed less than $5,000
  • a surviving spouse, child 18 years or older, parent

They would need to provide:

  • Certificate of death
  • Sworn affidavit
  • Other documentation the director deems necessary

Other updates to the law include “virtual currency,” and digital reporting and claiming. Virtual currency can be anything from gift cards, loyalty and rewards cards, and game-related digital content to Bitcoin. To streamline the process, the department would need to create the ability for online reporting and claiming for companies and individuals.

Currently, UNCFS’s average property value is $168.26. Of course, the smallest account is worth a penny. The largest account is worth $6.3 million.

While UNCFS discourages businesses from handing over the actual property, the department has received items that can be considered odd: from a veteran’s Purple Heart to gold teeth. Pictured below are some rare coins and money.

The UNCFS accepts all unclaimed funds regardless of the value and keeps them until the rightful owner can be found. During the past year, a total of 28,117 claims valued at more than $75 million were returned to their rightful owners.

The UNCFS used a number of efforts to reach the public and possible owners of the funds. These include in-person meetings to print advertisements and telethons, including newsletters, mailings, and social media.

To find out if you or a family member have money to be claimed at the Ohio Department of Commerce’s Unclaimed Funds, click here or visit MissingMoney.com.