Where's My Money?
I don't remember if I got my telephone deposit refunded. (This goes back many years, at a different phone number and last name.) AT&T told me they only keep records for 18 months and anything over that is lost! They said there is no way that they could research this for me. Who could I contact?
Search the Web
Go to unclaimed.org and follow directions. I checked this site out a while back and found my wife's name listed. It turned out to be for an old telephone deposit refund we never knew about! It was approximately $80.
This is for ANY unclaimed property not just phone deposits. This link will take you directly to where you start by choosing the state in which you are searching. Don't forget to check the previous states you lived in too! Also check for friends/relatives names and then let them know if you see anything that may be relevant to them.
John in Jupiter, FL
Editor's note: You can find the link for every state's unclaimed property page right here on stretcher.com We often get emails from people who have found 'lost' deposits.
Check with your State
I work for a city that requires deposits for water connections. Our policy is that if a check was issued for a refund on deposit and it was never cashed we submit that money to the State Treasurer. They keep this money in an escheat account that can be claimed by that individual at a later date. This person can check with their State Treasurer to see if this applies in their case.
Take Advantage of Free Service
I work for the state of Ohio, and almost every state has a website now. Go to your state's official website and many will have a section on "unclaimed funds." You can enter your name and it will tell you whether or not there are funds waiting for you. This is a free service. Please note that there are companies out there who will do this for you for a fee, but why pay someone to do it when it is so simple?
Never Accept a "No"
As a prior telephone company employee, this sounds all too familiar. First of all, never accept a "no" from someone who is answering the phone. They are the lowest level of command and have very strict call duration and sales quotas that they must adhere to. They simply don't want to be bothered with a task that requires research. Ask for a manager. If the manager does not help you, then ask for his/her manager. If this still gets you nowhere, then contact the FCC. The FCC keeps close tabs on all phone companies and will fine them if they don't adhere to strict regulations and rules that vary by state.
In my experience, your deposit information can be found. It's just on "hardcopy" or microfiche.
Contact Public Utilities Commission
I would suggest contacting the Public Utilities Commission in your state, advising them of your complaint. They will most likely do an inquiry and require the company to provide the "lost" information. If they can't "find" it, maybe they'll have to give you a refund, if they can't prove they returned your deposit. If you have a problem with another type of company, contact the agency in your state that regulates those types of businesses.
Get a Quick Response
We had a similar problem with our phone company, and they absolutely refused to return an overpayment that we made.
Here's what worked and worked quickly for us. We downloaded a complaint form from the attorney general's office of our state, filled it in carefully, and fired it off. Within two weeks, we had a letter of apology from a vice president and a check in full.
Now stop and think. Do you really think they don't have those records?
Paul of St. Johnsbury, VT
Light a Fire
I find it hard to believe that AT&T only retains their customers' financial records for 18 months. I work for a utility company in the customer accounting department, and we have to keep the information in some form for several years. Granted, some customer contacts are archived after three years, but, generally, I can pull up any customer's account in our system. From this, I can tell how much we billed them for any given month, when we billed or credited a deposit, etc.
My suggestion would be to approach your Public Service Commissioner about this situation. In most cases, this will light a fire under a utility company's rear end more than anything will.
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