The Story of Buying and Holding Amazon for 20 years and Not Making Any Money on It

The other day I listened to an NPR story about some guy who bought 6K worth of AMZN stock in his eTrade account in the late 90s. He decided to forget about his account and check on it 20 years later like Warren Buffett teaches – buy strong companies you believe in and forget about them. When the guy checked his account 20 years later, it was empty. He called eTrade. They told him that the state of Delaware seized his account in 2008. States do that when you don’t check your account for a certain period of time (three years in many states). He called Delaware’s unclaimed property department. Turns out they sold his shares in 2008 and were holding the money for him – $8k. The guy was furious. His AMZN shares were supposed to be worth over 100k when he checked. 

The moral of the story. 

  1. Check your brokerage accounts once a year.
  2. Go to google and type “lost money” +” any state you have ever lived in”. Go to the unclaimed property section of that state and type your name. You might be surprised to find that you have unclaimed money from checks, bank accounts, and brokerage statements. If you find a match with your name and a recognizable address, you can file a claim to get your money back. There are billions of dollars that the States keep as unclaimed property.