NBC 5 Investigates

Chicago-Area Governments Could Owe You Money. Here's How to Find it

Millions of Chicago-area residents could have money coming to them. NBC 5 Investigates and Telemundo Investiga uncovered the tools and resources needed to find your cash.

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NBC 5 Investigates and Telemundo Investiga have been researching billions of dollars owed to millions of people across the greater Chicago area, mostly from places people aren’t aware of: bankruptcy refunds, for example, or Chicago’s trove of uncashed checks, among many others.

Do you qualify for money? Check the four places below. We'll be adding more lists of unclaimed money in weeks to come.

COOK COUNTY PROPERTY TAX REFUNDS

Cook County Treasurer Maria Pappas wants to see if she owes you money. Pappas’ office says it has a total of more than $72 million it wants to refund to property owners, and another $43 million in missing exemptions.

WHERE TO LOOK: If you’re a homeowner in Cook County, Pappas’ office has a search tool where you can check to see if you have a refund coming your way. 

HOW TO CLAIM YOUR MONEY: Search by your address or your Property Index Number (PIN). Then look for the section that says, “Are There Any Overpayments on your PIN?” and – if there are – fill out the online application to start the process of getting your money back.

Cook County Treasurer Maria Pappas wants to see if she owes you money. Pappas’ office says it has a total of more than $72 million it wants to refund to property owners, and another $43 million in missing exemptions. Alex Maragos reports.

CHICAGO’S UNCASHED CHECKS

NBC 5 Investigates and Telemundo Investiga have discovered that the City of Chicago is holding more than $12 million in uncashed checks due to more than 19,000 people and businesses across the Chicago area, including many who are current city employees. We found checks dating as far back as 1987, with individual amounts ranging from a few cents, up to more than half a million dollars.

WHERE TO LOOK: There’s no easy way to know if you’re due any of these checks, because the city does not make its list public unless someone knows to ask for it. We had to file a Freedom of Information request to get it. And Chicago does not follow state law that requires cities to turn over their uncashed checks to the Illinois Treasurer, so people are not able find them on the state’s ICash website.

So NBC 5 Investigates and Telemundo Investiga created our own search tool, so that you can check for any uncashed checks the city may be holding for you:

HOW TO CLAIM YOUR MONEY: If you find money, the Chicago Department of Finance posts two claim forms to get it: This one for individuals to fill out, and this one for businesses.  The city also says you can email payments@cityofchicago.org with any questions about making a claim for your money.

NBC 5 Investigates' Phil Rogers shares the story of a little-known trove of nearly $20,000 in uncashed checks held by the city of Chicago. The checks were meant for employees, but kept inside the city's coffers.

UNCLAIMED MONEY FROM BANKRUPTCY CASES

NBC 5 Investigates and Telemundo Investiga have found a total $16,434,927.20 in unclaimed funds from bankruptcy cases in Illinois and across the greater Chicago area, currently due to more than 70,000 creditors, including unclaimed amounts as high as $24,305.92, in local cases that date back to 1966. Nationwide, NBC 5 Investigates has found unclaimed bankruptcy money due to more than 915,000 creditors.

WHERE TO LOOK: We’ve created this exclusive search tool, where you can check for unclaimed funds from local bankruptcy cases. Our tool includes all unclaimed money kept in five area bankruptcy courts:  Illinois’ Northern District (ILNB); Central District (ILCB) and Southern District (ILSB); Indiana’s Northern District (INNB), and Wisconsin’s Eastern District (WIEB), as of November of 2021.

You can also search for unclaimed bankruptcy funds, nationwide, through the U.S. Courts Unclaimed Funds Locator

HOW TO CLAIM YOUR MONEY: If you find money, follow the instructions that apply to the court where your unclaimed funds are being kept:

  • Use this form, with instructions here, to claim money held by the Northern District of Illinois Bankruptcy Court;
  • For money held by the Northern District of Indiana Bankruptcy Court, call the court’s main phone number at (574) 968-2100.
  • For money held by the Eastern District of Wisconsin Bankruptcy Court, call the court’s main phone number at (414) 297-3291.
  • Use this form, with instructions here, to claim money held by the Central District of Illinois Bankruptcy Court;
  • And use this form, with these instructions, to claim money held by the Southern District of Illinois Bankruptcy Court.
Millions of Chicago-area residents could have money coming to them. NBC 5 Investigates and Telemundo Investiga uncovered the tools and resources needed to find your cash. Phil Rogers has more.

STATE OF ILLINOIS UNCLAIMED FUNDS

You may already know about Illinois’ ICash search site, but – even if you do – you should check it again. The Illinois State Treasurer is currently holding more than $3.5 billion in unclaimed funds for tens of millions of people – and that could include you, your family or your friends. 

WHERE TO LOOK: The state of Illinois adds new property to the list all the time, which means that even if you’ve claimed money from the state before, there may be new money waiting for you now. You can search for all unclaimed funds here.

HOW TO CLAIM YOUR MONEY: NBC 5 Investigates and Telemundo Chicago Investiga have found that names and addresses are often misspelled on this list, and many people are listed at residences they haven’t occupied for decades, so you may find extra money if you try different spellings or look for old addresses. If you do find money, press the “claim” button for each unclaimed property and fill out the online form. The state will then send you an email, which will include another form that shows the exact amounts due to you.

And now, you may even get more money: The State of Illinois is now required to pay interest on much of its unclaimed property, depending on when someone claims it and when it was turned over to the state. You can find details on that on the treasurer’s FAQ page.

**Editor's note: Did you find money due to you from the City of Chicago, the Cook County Treasurer’s Office, Illinois’ Unclaimed Funds or a bankruptcy claim? We want to know when you receive your money or if you’re having long-term problems claiming it. Fill out our form here!

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