How to Find Unclaimed Money
You may have money floating around in your name, under the control of the state and not paying any interest. Fix that with these quick steps.
What is unclaimed money?
It's not in your couch cushions...
In a recent article in the San Francisco Chronicle, an author detailed, "$633 million ... flowed into the California's unclaimed-property account last year. The state is hanging on to a total of $6.1 billion - money from dormant savings accounts, store credits and forsaken royalty payments."
Wouldn't it be nice if we could all claim our share of that number? Well, we can.
Unclaimed money, or missing money, is money that someone can claim ownership to, without them realizing it. When a person abandons property, such as bank accounts, the bank then turns them over to state treasuries and other agencies for protection and administration.
According to the National Association for Unclaimed Property Administrators, or NAUPA, website:
- $1.754 billion was returned from 1.929 million accounts to the rightful owners in Fiscal Year 2006.
- A total of at least $32.877 billion is currently being safeguarded by state treasurers and other agencies for 117 million accounts.
- Claims can be made into perpetuity in most cases - even by heirs. Even if you never did anything for it, you could still be owed money by the government because your ancestors did.
Indeed, whether you're a firm believer in Suze Orman's methodology or a subscriber to Kiplinger's Personal Finance magazine, chances are your guru of choice recommends checking for unclaimed property periodically. Find out how to do exactly that easily and painlessly below.
Where can I find unclaimed money?
If you live within the United States, the NAUPA runs a website compiling a list of state database search forms on a state-by-state basis. If you choose to use Unclaimed.org, I recommend you search in every state you've lived in.
Another site endorsed by NAUPA is MissingMoney.com, which also allows you to search in government databases by your name. MissingMoney also has some available services for certain participating provinces in Canada.
Although not all states do participate, there are still more ways to find property in your name.
According to the Treasury, each year, 25,000 payments are returned to the Department of the Treasury as undeliverable. Billions of dollars in savings bonds have stopped earning interest, but haven’t been cashed. For certain bonds within limitations, TreasuryDirect.gov provides a free search tool for bonds that are not cashed and not earning interest.
The National Credit Union Administration also maintains a database of unclaimed property resulting from issues in paying out shares of closing credit unions.
Regardless of whether you think you have unclaimed property, most personal finance gurus recommend checking these databases at least once per year as part of a regular financial health routine.
Additional sources of money you may not know exists are government benefits - especially of ancestors - as well as pensions, class action lawsuits, and HUD/FHA Mortgage Insurance Refunds.