RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - If VDOT owes you money, it might be because you're one of the thousands of drivers who let their E-ZPass accounts become inactive.
E-ZPasses are supposed to be easy, allowing you to go straight through a toll, in some cases without even slowing down. It only costs $35 to load the transponder. That amount is paid in advance, but what if you never use it?
What if a family member dies and you never closed the account or if you moved away? What if you got a new job and never have to drive the toll roads? Whatever the case may be, you may have left money just sitting there.
According to VDOT, 34,922 have accounts that have been inactive over a year or more.
"In the grand scheme of things, it's a small number. We have about 1.25 million active accounts now," said VDOT spokesperson Shannon Marshall. However, those inactive accounts are holding $843,569.
The amount you may be owed is typically small. Most people only keep about $35 on their account. "We in no means want to hold onto someone's money. It's theirs, and if they decided they want to close the account, we'd be more happy to refund them," Marshall added.
VDOT says it's still trying to contact about 31,000 of those E-ZPass holders to let them know their account is dormant. VDOT typically reaches out through mail.
If the agency can't get a hold of you, VDOT charges the account $10 for the transponder or $20 for a Flex Transponder. Those transponders are state property and you're supposed to return them when you close the account. But that leftover pile of money needs to be returned.
Under state law, it's held for five years and if no one claims the money, VDOT turns it over to the Virginia Department of Treasury Unclaimed Property division.
If you've forgotten about your account or haven't used it in a while, you may want to find out if it's inactive.
You can call 1-877-762-7824 Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
If it's been more than five years, you'll want to log onto the state's unclaimed property website and look up your name to see if you have any money waiting for you.
We also discovered that the state makes money off of these inactive accounts.
While VDOT's holding onto your money those five years, it collects interest.
VDOT says the interest earnings are kept in the E-ZPass program and are used to offset operating cost.
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