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Claim your check from Gainesville public utilities, else it goes to the state

POSTED: December 6, 2008 5:00 a.m.

Get your money now or the state will.

Gainesville’s Public Utilities Department currently has about 280 checks waiting for customers who overpaid or never received their deposits, said Tina Wetherford, finance manager for the department.

If the money isn’t claimed within a certain amount of time: "We are required by the state to turn it in as unclaimed property, and all the money goes to the state of Georgia," Wetherford said.

The Georgia Department of Revenue requires the city to turn over unclaimed checks to the state after five years, according to Beverly Williams, Gainesville’s accounting manager.

The city sends the unclaimed funds to the state each November, but sends a letter months beforehand to notify residents who stand to lose a refund check of $50 or more. This June, the city mailed 41 letters to utility customers who had, in total, left $3,104.38 worth of unclaimed checks, Williams wrote in an e-mail.

The majority of the unclaimed refund checks are much smaller than $50, Wetherford said.

Usually, the money is leftover deposit money that the department was not able to return because of a change in address, Wetherford said.

"Most are just small amounts; a lot are around 20 bucks," she said.

But money is money, and the department is doing what it can to make sure it is returned to its rightful owner before the state gobbles it up.

For the past month, the department has been advertising the names of customers on TV18 who need to pick up their refund checks. Since then, about 10 people have claimed refund checks, Wetherford said.

To claim a refund check, customers can call the utility department’s customer service phone number and ask to speak to Michelle Skelton, Wetherford said.

The department will have to verify the customer’s Social Security number and will need proof of address before releasing the refund check.


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