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Why is Minnesota holding on to $650 million of your money?

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The state of Minnesota currently holds more than $650 million in unclaimed property belonging to its residents.

That's right, more than $650 million being held in accounts that is the rightful property of Minnesota's people, and the state is being criticized for knowing who it belongs to, but not doing enough to get it back to them.

But now, moves are being taken that could more efficiently reunite people with their money.

A class action lawsuit has been filed this week in Ramsey County District Court by Timothy Hall Jr., who the Pioneer Press reports claims he didn't get a final paycheck after leaving his retail job and was never told it was available.

He eventually found it on Missingmoney.com, the website used by the state of Minnesota to help people track down their property, but issued the class-action lawsuit against the state for "profiting enormously" from the hundreds of millions of dollars in its general fund that belongs to residents.

TThe lawsuit says the state's use of the Missingmoney website is not an adequate service to help people get their money, the newspaper notes, and also asks the court if the state's seizure of unclaimed property without notifying owners is a breach of peoples' Fifth Amendment rights.

State has a 'wallet full of your cash'

KARE 11 reported earlier this week that Rep. Joe Atkins, D-Inver Grove Heights, has put forward a bill to improve the state's handling of unclaimed property that addresses several of the concerns in the lawsuit.

He says that newspaper adverts with the owners' names should be published in newspapers (something that state used to do, but fell victim to budget cuts), as well as taking "proactive efforts" to notify owners their property is being held.

He also wants the state to provide the names of owners to state representatives, who can then reach out to their individuals themselves.

Writing in the St. Cloud Times, he said: "Minnesota law does not require the Department of Commerce to take any steps to find owners. So the money just sits there. And sits there. And grows in the state's coffers. To me, that is like finding a lost wallet full of cash, with an ID in it, but not calling the owner."

"The state's effort is the online equivalent of occasionally stapling a sign to a utility pole saying we found a lost wallet," he adds. "Even though we know the name of the owner and his or her last known address, the state waits for the owner to find us."

The Commerce Commissioner told KARE on Wednesday that it "is committed to continuing its work to unite Minnesotans with their missing money."

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