Dear Harry: I had a life insurance policy with a big company for more than 11 years. Every time they would send me a dividend check, I would not deposit it. Don't ask me why: I just didn't. About four years ago, a company sent me a brochure saying that if I paid them $50, they would send me all the necessary papers to recover the money that the insurance company was required by law to send to the government in Harrisburg. Again, I don't know why I waited so long to do anything. Now someone told me that I could do this directly without paying someone $50. The amount can't be very large, because the checks I got were under $25 each. Is there a way to do it? Can you guide me?

What Harry says: The money may not be large, but it will certainly buy you a lot of Philly cheesesteaks. Contact the Treasury Department, Bureau of Unclaimed Property at 1-800- 222-2046. They will direct you as to how to expedite recovery of your money.

The Department has more than $1.5 billion in unclaimed money that's just sitting there. It's a good idea for everyone to do a quick search on the Internet (www.patreasury.org/index. html). It will take only a few minutes.

It is especially important to do it for deceased relatives. Too often, people who die have some accounts with banks that no one is aware of. Here's a cutie: Some years ago, a reader wrote to me of an account she found that her grandfather had jointly with his mistress who had predeceased him. She got well over a thousand dollars as his only heir.

Write Harry Gross c/o the Daily News, 400 N. Broad St., Philadelphia, PA 19130. Harry urges all his readers to give blood - contact the American Red Cross at 800-GIVE LIFE.