Unclaimed Money

By Connie Schlosberg

 

Some time ago Marla, my sister-in-law, forwarded an email to me from her sister. While searching for ways to find money, she discovered the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators, a website devoted to searching for missing money and unclaimed property. She searched for Marla too hoping to find some money for her but instead came across my name. Marla shared the search with me.

My Search for Missing Money

I had never heard of unclaimed property or the fact that anyone would be missing money that is rightfully owed to them. Of course, who wouldn’t want money that is due to them? Eager to see who owed me money, I jumped on the website and conducted a free search by clicking on MissingMoney, a multi-state search sponsored by the NAUPA.

My search results showed that I had $100 due to me from Merry Maids, a cleaning company that I had used a few years back. I clicked the claim button, which directed me to the online forms I needed to complete to retrieve the funds. I was also required to get a notary public to verify it was really me who was requesting the money. About 12 weeks later I received a $100 check in the mail from the State of Colorado. Nice find for a little bit of effort, eh?

The Government’s $33 billion Surprise

Did you know state treasurers and other government bureaus are holding nearly $33 billion in unclaimed property? The average claim is $250, but some people are due even more. There is a good chance you could be owed some money. It’s certainly worth a look.

What is Unclaimed Property?

Unclaimed property is money held in financial institutions or organizations that haven’t been used in over a year or where the account holder hasn’t been active for more than a year. These accounts include savings/checking accounts, tax refunds, stocks, dividends, money orders, gift certificates, insurance payments, security deposit refunds, safe-deposit box content, and believe it or not - paychecks. Some financial experts estimate one out of every eight people has money owed to them from unclaimed property.

If you’re looking for extra money to help pay groceries, gas, or a credit card bill, you may very well have some money owed to you. Why would you want those precious dollars just laying around in a government account?

Free Ways to Find Money Owed to You

Although there isn’t one tool for searching unclaimed money from the government, NAUPA and its search engine tool, MissingMoney, is an excellent starting place. Access is free and the information is derived from official government websites.

Here are 7 steps to find money owed to you:

1. Unclaimed Property by State

Use the NAUPA and MissingMoney websites to check for unclaimed property in every state where you have lived. Be sure to search on your maiden name or other names you may have used in your past. Click on “Other sources” for unclaimed property for a more extensive search. Not all states are available for search on MissingMoney. You can visit their unclaimed property offices by using the interactive map on NAUPA’s home page.

2. Tax Refunds

Search for tax refunds that you may have never received.

3. Bank and Credit Union Closures

Search for unclaimed money from bank, credit union, and financial institution closures where you have had accounts.

4. SEC Claims Funds

Click here to check if you are owed funds from the SEC (Securities and Exchange Commission).

5. Unclaimed Wages

Check for unclaimed wages. For this step, use the Department of Labor’s database. The DOL will have unpaid wages available for up to three years.

6. Unclaimed Pensions

You may have money owed to you if a former employer had a pension plan. Search for unclaimed pensions here.

7. FHA Insured Mortgages

If you had an FHA insured mortgage, you may have a refund due to you from HUD (Department of Housing and Urban Development). Check for a refund from an FHA-insured mortgage.

It took me less than 15 minutes to search on my name. Granted a $100 isn’t going to get you out of debt, but anything is possible, and you never can be sure what you may discover. Try it today and let us know what you find.

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