The Santa Clara (Calif.) County Department of Revenue, which acts as the county's central collection agency, reported Tuesday that 1,060 people are the potential owners of nearly $244,000 in unclaimed money.

The revenue department collects fines, penalty assessments, fees and restitution for crime victims - all services provided by many of the county's departments and for the Santa Clara County Superior Court.

Unclaimed funds become available for many possible reasons - overpayment; adjustment of charges; payment of victim restitution by a defendant when the victim has moved and a new address is unavailable; returned mail resulting in the discontinuation of payments; and deposits when the recipient can find no service-related charges.

The office processes nearly 337,000 payments, totaling some $79 million, per year, then distributes the money to the various agencies and departments. Attempts are made to locate the owners by mail, phone calls and skip tracing. In some cases, recipients do not want the money or do not have records to validate their acceptance of payment, according to Susan Ping Wong, the county's director of revenue collections.

People who believe that they may be owed a payment have until May 30 to make a claim with the revenue department. After that date, unclaimed money in the Victim Trust Fund will help fund the District Attorney Victim Witness Assistance Program. Unclaimed money in the General Trust Fund will be used as directed by the county's Board of Supervisors.

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