By C.J. LeMaster
Chances of winning a lottery in a state other than Mississippi, like Tennessee: One in 55 million. The chance of finding out you could have money from the State Treasurer's office is much better, though: one in four.
Most people have no problem answering what they'd do with an extra thousand in their pocket.
"It's a great opportunity for us to get money back into people's pockets in these tough economic times," State Treasurer Tate Reeves said. "It's something that, in my office, we strive to work very hard at, as evidenced by the fact that we returned over $10 million and nearly 11,000 claims last year alone."
One of the jobs Reeves has is supervising unclaimed property, ranging from things like utility deposits, old electric company deposits, old checking accounts, or even old savings accounts.
In most cases, it's money or stocks left behind after someone moves or changes jobs.
Once that money is turned over to the state, it's Reeves' job to get it back in the hands of its rightful owner.
For those who want to collect their cash, those who work for the Unclaimed Property division say northeast Mississippi alone has nearly $9 million for the taking.
In Monroe County, $417,000 remains unclaimed. Lowndes County has more than twice that amount.
The biggest county for unclaimed property in northeast Mississippi, though, is Lee, with more than $1.5 million available.
"You will find unclaimed property either for yourself, for a family member, or for someone you know," Reeves said. "It is amazing to people that it actually occurs, but I can assure you it does."
When WTVA News contacted Ruble Oliver, he had no idea there was money waiting for him.
That's when Unclaimed Property Division Head John Younger made the call.
"I understand we have some money for you," Younger said.
"Well, that's what I'm understanding," Oliver said. "I'm sitting down, so I don't want to fall out or nothin'."
Then he reveals the amount: $1,332.
"How much?" Oliver exclaims. "Hallelujah! My wife's done got it spent."
Where'd the money come from? Turns out it was leftover commissions from his previous job as an insurance agent.
"Over eight years I've been gone from this company," Oliver said. "I've got a bill right now that's due, and I was praying how I was gonna get it paid, and now the money's here. God is good."
Here's the best part: it's incredibly easy to get the money.
Once the office verifies the cash is yours, all you have to do is fill out a few forms from the State Treasurer's Web site, get it notarized, mailed, and you'll get your money within days.
Not sure if you're even on the list?
Head over to the Mississippi Unclaimed Property Web site or check the list to the right of this article.
It's as easy as typing your name and searching.
"We've actually in my tenure returned shares of stock in a company that was valued at over $1 million for an individual who had no idea that this money existed," Reeves said. "It was literally from 30 years ago. By the way, that's one of if not the largest ever found in the country."
Oliver said he still can't believe it.
"They could come to my door with that Publisher's Clearing House check and I wouldn't feel any better than I do right now," he said. "Check the list. Period. Check the list."
It doesn't cost anything to search online and the whole process is incredibly simple.
How much money's available statewide?
For those who'd rather check and verify their amounts in person, the State Treasurer's Unclaimed Property division will have a mobile office set up at Tupelo City Hall Wednesday, from 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.