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Washington Mutual Reports Millions in Bank Pay-Outs

Banks are a large cause for unclaimed money. Washington Mutual bank, which stopped its operation in 2008, has reported to have handed over almost $252 million to the different state treasuries. New York-based JPMorgan Chase & Co. purchased the bank’s assets after its failure and passed inactive accounts, which had no deposits or withdrawals for three years, to the (FDIC) Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.

Reliable resources at FDIC have revealed that FDIC had mailed claim forms to the last known addresses of any account holder with more than $75 due. The names of persons who had at least $25 in accounts had their names posted online. J.P Morgan Chase had sent out all the notification letters to the owners of unclaimed accounts intimating them of the impending transfer of funds to FDIC.

“We get money from the FDIC [takeovers] all the time, but it’s usually very minimal,” says John Gabriel, the president of the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators and Tennessee’s unclaimed property director. “This is an unusual spike.” This incident also sheds light on the fact that every bank has unclaimed funds and with Washington Mutual being the sixth largest bank in the country, the volume of unclaimed funds was even greater.

“[The amount] has nothing to do with the fact that the bank failed,” says David Barr, a spokesman for the FDIC. Washington Mutual was the sixth largest bank in the country at the time of its demise, and the figure reflects that. “Banks have unclaimed funds,” he says. “Obviously a bank that size is going to have more.”

Customers of Washington Mutual who had inactive accounts at the time of bank failure had their accounts transferred to FDIC. Active account holders were able to make successful switch to either Chase or to any other bank. Chase customers who successfully made the switch from Washington Mutual after its failure aren’t affected, says Chase spokesman, Tom Kelly.

The unclaimed accounts are those that were already dormant at the time of acquisition, likely from consumers who forgot about small amounts left in their accounts when they moved or switched banks. Some may be from deceased customers with no known heirs, or simply poor local bank records, Gabriel says.

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