Over the past few months, South Carolinians have been busy searching for financial relief anywhere they can find it. In addition to those who have welcomed tax refunds and stimulus checks, some people have been busy searching their sofa cushions, playing the lottery and even raiding their piggy banks to find some extra cash.

For many, however, there is a much quicker and easier way.

The State Treasurer’s Office has more than $650 million in unclaimed property – and some of these funds may belong to you or someone you know. South Carolina citizens, businesses, schools, charities, and other organizations all have unclaimed property.

The state safeguards this money until the owners can be found and the money returned, often in a matter of just a few weeks after claims are filed. The service is free, and there is no time limit to claim your money.

So, where does this money come from? It could be an uncashed payroll check, a utility deposit you left behind, insurance policy proceeds, stocks, or a dormant bank account you had forgotten about.

Companies, government agencies and others are required annually to report these funds to the Treasurer’s Office when they are unable to locate the rightful owners, so this list is always changing.

I have talked with individuals who had no idea money belonging to them was being held by the state, and they often share that these funds have come at just the right time. They tell how a loved one has been battling an illness or unemployment, and this unexpected $100, $200 or even $1,000 made a difference in helping them cover their medical bills or pay their mortgage.

Here’s what some folks have said:

“My aunt visited the website and saw my name. She texted me, telling me to look into it. I thought it was a scam. But I filled out the claim, and a week later I received a check for $160!”

“This program is utterly amazing. I had no idea I had unclaimed money until my mother told me.”

“I liked that this could be accomplished online, and relatively quickly. During the search I found other family members and alerted them to their unclaimed cash.”

The process is easy and can be completed online. Simply visit treasurer.sc.gov and click on the Unclaimed Property link to search for your name. If it comes up with your name at your current address, or if you’ve moved, a previous address, click to claim it.

And remember, this is a free service. If you find yourself on a website that asks for a credit card or is trying to charge you a fee to find your money, you’re in the wrong place.

At a time when so many people are looking for additional resources, it’s good to remind our citizens about the Unclaimed Property Program and encourage them to check their names.

Happy searching!

Curtis Loftis is the South Carolina state treasurer.