Today’s topic: Money.
Perhaps you’ve heard of it.
If not, allow our friends at britannica.com to fill you in: “Money is a commodity accepted by general consent as a medium of economic exchange. It circulates from person to person and country to country, facilitating trade, and it is the principal measure of wealth.”
And, yes, I’m a fan.
As you probably already know, there are all sorts of ways in which money may fall into your lap.
In a perfect world, we’d wake up every morning and find another basket of the stuff on our doorsteps, next to a pot of steaming-hot coffee and a tall glass of freshly squeezed tangerine juice.
But the method of acquiring money I want to discuss today was a first for me.
It all began months ago. Way back in September, if memory serves.
I was sitting around, minding my own business, when a reader sent me a note about a legal notice concerning “unclaimed property” that he had seen in, of all places, The Record.
Perhaps you’ve heard of it.
He went down the list of names in this legal notice — it was several pages long — in search of his own.
He looked. And he looked. And, yes, he kept on looking.
Did he ever find his name? No. But he found the next best thing: “William Ervolino.”
Perhaps you’ve heard of me.
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I really didn’t know this reader and wondered, for a minute or two, if he was pulling my leg.
(I didn’t think he was, but one must be vigilant in a world filled with spam, shams and scams.)
I was able to get a copy of the legal notice, though, and, sure enough, there I was. In print! So, it must be real!
(Or, would there be a correction in the next day’s paper? “Yesterday’s legal notice contained an error. William Ervolino isn’t getting bupkis.”)
According to the legal notice, I had to go to a government website and fill out a form, with all sorts of personal information.
And, in an instant, more anxiety set in.
“Is this a real website, or a fake?”
This, too, is indicative of the world we live in today, filled with endless stresses, pressures and dangers lurking around every corner.
My friend Tom noticed how jumpy I was.
“I think you need a vacation,” he said. “Leave town for a while. Head down to the Gulf, or the West Coast, or…”
“I’d love to,” I replied, “but I’m too afraid of earthquakes, hurricanes and tornadoes.”
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He asked about tsunamis.
“Yeah,” I nodded. “Those, too.”
After mulling things over — the web address certainly looked real — I filled out the form and nervously hit SEND. Moments later, I received an email informing me that I would get my check, for more than $800, in two to three weeks.
Granted, $800 isn’t a fortune, but it would be a very welcome addition to my household — assuming the check arrived in two to three weeks, of course. Which it didn’t.
Four to five weeks later, I sent a note to the website: “It’s been two months and I still have not received my check.”
Immediately, a form email came back to me saying that “someone from our office” will contact me.
Alas, no one from their office or anyone else’s office contacted me.
Worse: My brother assured me that I’d been bamboozled.
“Change all your bank information,” he said. “You’ve been scammed.”
I went to my bank and showed everything to my banker. “Looks legitimate to me,” he said. “Their office may just be backed up.”
I was relieved. Sort of. But then, another two months went by. And, yes, I sent another email: “Yo! What happened to my claim?”
Once again, I was informed that someone would contact me. And, once again, someone didn’t.
I wasn’t exactly bereft. After all, it’s hard to miss something you never had in the first place. Still, I was disappointed.
But then, on the morning of April 7, another email arrived.
From “someone?” Yes!
Finally: “Your claim has been processed for payment. A check will be mailed to the mailing address you provided when you submitted your claim. You may expect to receive your check within two to three weeks.”
Naturally, I was skeptical.
But, eight days later — a mere one to two weeks — the check was in my mailbox. I opened it. I embraced it like a long-lost friend. I jumped up and down.
I still don’t know what this “unclaimed property” was. But, sometimes it’s best not to look a formerly unclaimed horse in the mouth.
Incidentally, my happy check came with a happy note: “It is our goal to reunite unclaimed property with its rightful owners. Please encourage your family and friends to visit: unclaimedfunds.nj.gov/app/claim-search to search for unclaimed property in their name.”
Anything else can I tell you?
Yes: Good luck.