It is not often you hear the government giving money back to taxpayers. The state, however, has over $8 billion in unclaimed property awaiting Californians who have left funds in dormant accounts at banks, insurance companies and utilities or stocks and trust holdings.

Occasionally there can even be watches, jewelry and other valuables abandoned in safe deposit boxes. Regardless of what form it takes, this is treasure that belongs to the public, not the state. It is just a matter of getting it into the right hands.

The state controller provides a convenient website to search for what may be long-lost money or property at www.claimit.ca.gov or by calling 800-992-4647.

During this time of uncertain employment, rising prices and economic fluctuations, almost anyone could use some extra money. So if you checked the controller’s database a few years ago it may be worthwhile to check it again. Unclaimed property is constantly being delivered to the state.

You should also be wary of companies offering to search for unclaimed property on your behalf. It is generally a simple and free process to recover it yourself.

If you need help, you are always welcome to stop by one of my district offices or speak with a representative at one of our district mobile office hours, which are listed on my website at www.senate.ca.gov/cannella.

Anthony Cannella represents California’s 12th State Senate District.