This article first appeared in the Huffington Post on 2 January 2013
When I graduated, my father gave me 15 shares of Schering-Plough stock. It seemed like a rock-solid move. My father was getting older and appreciated the relevance of pharmaceuticals that could only get stronger as we baby boomers ripened into our golden years...
Several career changes later, I had lived all over the world, kissed under Tokyo cherry blossoms, endured the August heat of Dubai. Back in the west, I recently called the Bank of New York (BONY), where my shares were last seen.
I was told that when Merck & Co. merged with Schering-Plough in 2009, it had turned its shares over to Wells Fargo, the bank now managing Merck shares.
Wells Fargo did not agree. "That account number isn't one from our system," a Wells Fargo representative told me. "We have different account numbers." The stock was not at Wells Fargo. "We must not have been able to get in touch with you over an extended period," the representative explained.
Since when is stock something that you have to check on every year? Stocks are touted as instruments that you put away and forget about while they grow.
Not so, the representative said. If the bank cannot verify your whereabouts, it turns the stock over to the government.
I do not have my stock anymore. Don't tell me it just disappeared--poof. Who has the 'missing' money? Greedy bankers? The US government? The NYPD? Like the losses taxpayers are now struggling to replace, it went somewhere.