I'm always suspicious of scams, so when I got a letter saying that I was owed money my radar went off.

The letter arrived last week in an official-looking envelope from NY Senator Sue Serino. It explained that I had money owed to me and I should claim it before it disappears forever. The letter included a web address where I could go to search for my name and how much money was rightfully mine.

After authenticating the link and determining that it was an actual government website, I plugged in my info and, lo and behold, I was owed $25 from an unused Starbucks balance. This raised even more warning flags since most Internet scams focus around receiving or sending someone gift cards. After triple checking that I was on an actual government website, I hesitantly put in my contact info and asked that the money be sent to me in a check.

In just a few days I opened my mail to find a check for $25 from New York. Again, this raised even more flags because anyone that's ever dealt with the state government knows that they never have that quick of a turnaround for anything. But, after letting that check sit on my kitchen table for a week, I finally cashed it and, to my surprise, it was legit.

It turns out that if you purchase a gift card in New York State and it isn't used within five years companies must legally send the balance to the comptroller's office as unclaimed funds. Most likely, I bought the card as a gift for someone who never used it. Because the purchase was made on my credit card, the money was returned to me.

So, even if you're someone who would never let a gift card go to waste, it's possible that you have some money waiting for you too. You can check right now on the comptroller's website. And, if you do have unclaimed funds, rest assured that this isn't a scam. Just fill out the form and in a few days you'll have some extra cash in your pocket. Good luck!

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