Is Unclaimed Money Waiting For You?

Category: Finance

It never hurts to check under your couch cushions or car seats, but you're not likely to find more than coffee money by doing so. However, some 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 proceeds from a class action lawsuit settlement. But it doesn’t wait forever. Start the new year by checking out 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

Did you know... if you have a bank or investment account with no activity for as few as two years, it may be declared abandoned, and turned over to the government? That sounds outrageous, but fortunately there are ways to get that money back.

I got a letter in the mail, 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.

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 Alberta, British Columbia, New Brunswick, and Quebec. And Kenya. (But sadly, not Nigeria). 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. NAUPA says that approximately 1 in 10 people have unclaimed cash or property waiting for them to claim. 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 "Is Unclaimed Money Waiting For You?"

Posted by:

04 Jan 2022

Thanks, Bob. Just filed a claim for funds over $100.

Posted by:

04 Jan 2022

Double thanks, Bob. I just got an email telling me that a check will be sent to me in the next 7-10 days. No further action required. WOW!

Posted by:

Sarah L
04 Jan 2022

State of Illinois has iCash. It has been returning funds without a request when they are sure of recipient. But it pays to check once or twice a year at the website,
I have gotten money several times, and I and my siblings found an insurance policy for our Dad, many years after he died. We split the proceeds, just like in his will.

Posted by:

Bill Pfeifer
05 Jan 2022

Luckily, i always scan through my spam folder, before clearing it, so i found your message.
"Is Unclaimed Money Waiting For You?" triggered hotmail's spam filter.

Posted by:

05 Jan 2022

I did a search and found some unclaimed funds for my Cousin in Missouri.

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