Do You Have Unclaimed Money Waiting?

Category: Finance

Did you know... if you have a bank account that has had no activity for as few as two years, it may be declared abandoned, and turned over to the government? Fortunately, there are ways to get that money back. Government experts estimate that $32 billion worth of lost, forgotten, or unclaimed money is waiting for consumers to find it. It could be a dormant bank account, stock dividends, a forgotten inheritance, or a class action lawsuit settlement. But it doesn’t wait forever. Here are more than a DOZEN places to look online to see if there's money waiting for you to claim...

How to Get Your Lost Money Back

I got a letter in the mail a few days ago, alerting me to some unclaimed funds that were awaiting me. The letter instructed me to fill out a form, and mail it back. The company that sent the letter would charge me a 15% fee to "file the paperwork, and manage the claim." Phooey! I went online, and quickly found that both Amazon and Google were holding unclaimed funds for me. A few clicks later, and my claims were filed. And within a week, I got checks from the Comptroller of the State of New York for $58 and $27. That's not quit-your-job money, but it was a nice surprise, and cost me nothing but 5 minutes of my time. Read on to learn how you can do likewise.

It's always worthwhile to check under your couch cushions or car floor mats, but you're not likely to find more than coffee money by doing so. The vast majority of unclaimed cash is waiting in state government hands for the rightful owners to come and get it. All of the United States, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands have “unclaimed property” programs. So do the Canadian provinces of Quebec, British Columbia, Alberta, and New Brunswick. Details of their legislative authority vary, but in general they collect and safeguard abandoned or unclaimed funds which banks, brokerages, insurance companies, and other specified institutions are required to report and hand over.

The government is supposed to attempt to reunite citizens with their money. SEC regulations also require corporations that pay dividends to make an effort to notify you if there are uncashed dividend checks. But if you've moved or changed your name, that connection could be missed. And who knows how hard they really try to find you? So it's a good idea to make use of online tools to see if you have any missing money that could be reclaimed.

Unclaimed Money

Your starting point to search for unclaimed funds is, operated by the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators (NAUPA). This website makes it extraordinarily easy to see if you have any cash coming to you. Just enter your first and last name (or any other name, such as your maiden name or the name of a deceased relative) and look for matching records of funds among the search results. Don't forget to try nicknames or aliases, as well. “Cash” may include stocks, bonds, and other liquid assets, not just currency or bank account balances.

Each jurisdiction has its own rules for claiming found money. Some states hang onto unclaimed property forever. A Kansas City, MO, woman collected $6.1 million that her ancestors had lost! Once you find money that seems to be yours, you can contact the appropriate agency to claim it.

All 50 U.S. states participate in NAUPA’s searchable online database, as well as Guam, US Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, and some Canadian provinces. Check with each state, territory or province that you (or a relative) have lived in. I strongly advise you to begin these searches for missing money at, because they will link you to the official government sites to search for and claim your funds. Some unscrupulous third-parties may charge you a fee to do so.

Other Places to Search for Unclaimed Funds

But don't stop there... the federal government may also have money for you. The Internal Revenue Service has a database of undeliverable refund checks that may belong to you. Are you a military veteran? Search the Veterans Administration Benefits database for unclaimed veterans benefits owed to you.

The Wage and Hour Division of the U.S. Department of Labor sometimes recovers unpaid wages on behalf of employees, and holds those funds for three years. You can search the Workers Owed Wages database to see if you have money waiting to be claimed. The FDIC is holding money owed to depositors of failed banks; you can search for yours here. The National Credit Union Administration has its own database of unclaimed deposits.

If your private pension plan went bust, the Pension Benefit Guarantee Corp. may have your back. If you have an FHA mortgage, HUD may owe you money. The governments of Canada, Australia, France, New Zealand and Switzerland also have searchable databases of unclaimed funds.

Some U.S. states allow local governments to safeguard small amounts of unclaimed cash for up to two years before turning it over to the State. Try Google searches for “unclaimed property” plus the names of towns or counties in which you’ve lived. Google searches for “unclaimed child support” or “undistributed child support” can be fruitful, too; one single mom collected over $30,000 that way.

Beware of anyone who wants a fee to help you find or recover unclaimed property. There are so many free ways to search that I can only describe such finders-fees as scams. The sole exception to that rule is MIB Solutions, a private firm that keeps track of life insurance policies. Life insurance companies are not required to make any effort to pay benefits; beneficiaries must file claims. MIB charges $75 to help you find and claim benefits you may not know were owed to you.

Have you ever searched for abandoned or unclaimed funds? Have you done so and found money? Tell me about your experience. Post your comment or question below...

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Most recent comments on "Do You Have Unclaimed Money Waiting?"

Posted by:

Dan Valleskey
18 Dec 2018

Found some bucks in Florida, from my deceased parents. Trouble is, I would have had to claim it within a year of their passing. Oh well. I had found an annuity (a few years back) they had left. Took 3 lawyers, and a very helpful stockbroker to finally get the claim. Would not have bothered for anything less then a grand.

Posted by:

Charles H.
18 Dec 2018

Some years back I learned about and used it to find and claim $4,000 that was due to my ex-wife and me, from an account we never expected to ever hear from again. We both signed the papers and each got a check for 50%. I'm sure glad I learned about that.

Posted by:

18 Dec 2018

Are you aware that your site has an ad which serves as a link to: This tells you that we can all become millionaires by "investing" a small sum in cryptocurrencies — it describes it as if it were a magic money tree. You shouldn't allow your site to be used as a portal to this sort of rip-off scheme, Bob.

Posted by:

Robert A.
18 Dec 2018

My unclaimed funds were a quarter, a dime and four pennies found in the cushions of a sofa I picked up at a garage sale. Woo Hoo!

Posted by:

18 Dec 2018

I had oodles of unclaimed money. Unfortunately, it's all in the possession of my ex-wife!!!

I think it was Yogi Berra who stated something to the effect: My wives were great housekeepers: Every time I got a divorce, the kept the house. Amen to that, brother. :)

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