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Resident works to find money for others

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By Stephen Thomas

            CEDAR GROVE - If you had money coming to you and didn't know it, how would even begin to find it?

            That's a question Cedar Grove resident Ruby Smith hopes to help you answer.

            Smith's new title, independent refund processor, allows her to check Census Bureau documents for names and last addresses of individuals who took out home mortgages but never collected refunds.

            Smith has done more than her share of community assistance since retirement, helping with the Bullitt County Homemakers, Bullitt County Cooperative Extension Serivce and the Bullitt County Coalition for Recreation, Education and Wellness (CREW).

            "Someone asked me to help with this," Smith said of the mortgage refund assistance. "I was already helping people and this was another way."

            According to Smith, many people who pay off a mortgage forget to claim their money back. They have two years to collect or they can't get it.

            Unless someone like Smith assists them. With a particular number offered by the Federal Housing Administration, Smith can check online databases for names and last recorded addresses of those with money available.

            From there Smith attempts to contact the individuals. Like a detective, she searches local records, phone books, previous neighbors, any way to make contact.

            "Many of them think it's a gimmick when I call them," said Smith. "They forget about it but once you explain that you're there to help they listen."

            Smith makes an agreement with each individual client to receive a percentage of the money she collects for them. She agrees to prepare the essential paperwork with their approval.

            "You have to have all the proper papers," Smith said. "Plus you have to have the papers notarized, which can be hard to do. I'm a notary but I can't do my own."

            Smith said she had about 20 clients with completed paperwork. Once the clients receive their government checks, they then send her a percentage of the payment.

            It may sound like easy money for Smith, but she earns it. She pays for her own paper print-outs, stamps, and gas when visiting county clerk offices or meeting individual clients, especially those moved out of state.

            "I've done a few and I'm still learning the ropes," she said. "The hardest thing is locating the person. The government is really particular about the paperwork. Sometimes a couple is divorced and they both have to sign the deed. They don't want to bother with it if it means dealing with one another."

            The monetary percentage is not the only reward Smith receives for her efforts.

            "When you find them, each time it's exciting to me," she said. "I want to help the people, to help them get back money they paid in. Why should the government keep the money and draw interest on it?"

            Smith works with clients based primarily in Bullitt and surrounding counties.

            For more information call Smith at 543-3798 or (502) 855-9445.