More Ways To Find Money, Unclaimed funds are accounts in financial institutions or companies that have had no activity generated or contact with the owner; for a year or longer, most commonly in savings or checking accounts; stocks, uncashed dividends, security deposits, IRS refunds and more.
- Do a free search on the websites MissingMoney.com and UnclaimedMoneyRecovery.org, which are both endorsed. The sites feature collective records from all state-held unclaimed property.
- Check the treasury website for the state you live in. And any other ones you have resided in in the past.
- When doing the search, make sure to type in all the places you have lived. Also, if you’re married, make sure to check under your maiden name as well. Using a first initial and your last name is also encourage to make sure everything comes up.
- It’s up to you if you want to use a third-party service to claim your money, but it’s not a requirement. Each state has its own process; which usually takes three to four months and requires information like your social security number and more. If you choose to use a locator business to claim your money, in order to avoid doing the paperwork yourself, don’t pay up front. Also, don’t pay the company more than 10 percent or 20 percent of the amount of money you are claiming.
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Other sites you can search for unclaimed money:
- Search IRS.gov for any possible refund money from the Internal Revenue Service because undeliverable mail is often an issue for the IRS.
- In a search for any unclaimed pension money, the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. has a searchable database to find an unclaimed pension.
- Treasuryhunt.gov will help you search for any unclaimed savings bonds and payments.
- For any potentially unclaimed life insurance claims or payments, check your individual insurer’s website.
MissingMoney.com is a database of unclaimed governmental property records from U.S. states and Canadian provinces. According to the site, these records include:
- Bank accounts and safe-deposit box contents
- Stocks and bonds
- Uncashed checks and wages
- Insurance policies, CDs and trust funds
- Utility deposits and escrow accounts
2. Old stocks and bonds
If you hold an old stock or bond certificate, it may still have value even if it no longer trades under the name printed on the certificate — although claiming the value is not quite as easy as a click of the button. As the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) explains:
“The company may have merged with another company or simply changed its name. Keep in mind that due to corporate reorganizations (such as splits, mergers, or reverse mergers), the current share price may not be useful in determining the certificate’s value, if any. If the name of the transfer agent is on the certificate, contacting the transfer agent is the easiest way to learn about the certificate.”
If you don’t find the transfer agent, the SEC website offers other avenues you can check to follow up on your claim.
3. Unclaimed bank funds
The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, or FDIC, insures many accounts held in banks and savings and loans. So, if your financial institution goes under, the FDIC is responsible for payment of insured deposits and the liquidation of the remaining assets.
The FDIC also has a tool that can help you find if your bank is insured.
4. Savings bonds and Treasury funds
The U.S. Department of the Treasury holds billions of matured, unredeemed savings bonds. Wonder if any of those are yours? Unfortunately, finding out requires you to fill out a form.
Stop by the federal government’s TreasuryDirect website to do so.
5. Unclaimed pension funds
This Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation is the U.S. government agency that insures retirement benefits that are promised to employees in case of a pension failure.
If you worked for a company that offered retirement benefits but then went out of business, check the website to see whether the PBGC is the “trustee” responsible for paying your benefits.
6. Unclaimed tax refunds
There are millions of dollars in unclaimed tax refunds just waiting for their rightful recipients.
Wonder how to find out if you’re federal or state owe you tax money? Easy — just go to USA.gov, a government information and services website.
7. Other types of missing money
The National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators can help you find “uncashed checks, security deposits, overpayments, and more.”
Stop by the website to begin searching.
Do you think you might have some unclaimed treasures out there? Check it out, and share what you find with us in comments below.
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Currently, states, federal agencies and other organizations collectively hold more than $58 billion in unclaimed cash and benefits. That’s roughly $186 for every U.S. resident. The unclaimed property comes from a variety of sources; including abandoned bank accounts and stock holdings, unclaimed life insurance payouts and forgotten pension benefits.
Some people are owed serious cash. Last year, a Connecticut resident claimed $32.8 million, proceeds from the sale of nearly 1.3 million shares of stock. The recipient of the funds requested to remain anonymous and no further details were provided.
More than $300 million in pension benefits is currently owed to some 38,000 people; according to the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. The unclaimed benefits currently range from 12 cents to a whopping $704,621, with an average benefit of $9,100. Benefits may go unclaimed because an employee is unaware they have accrued retirement benefits at a previous employer, the agency said.
However, the majority of the forgotten funds — roughly $41.7 billion — are held by the states, according to the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators.
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Under varying state laws, financial institutions and other companies require to turn over any funds considered “abandoned,” Including uncashed paychecks; forgotten bank account balances, unclaimed refunds, insurance payouts and contents of safe deposit boxes. They have found some pretty unusual items like diamonds, bottles of liquor and sardines. Property is usually considered abandoned after the holder of the account or property has had no activity or contact; with the owner for several years.
The states then try to find the owner through websites, newspaper ads and booths at events like state fairs. But every year, the vast majority of unclaimed funds remain in state coffers. Where the cash can be use to fund government operations. Although the states are careful to note that the owner’s claim to the property will always remain valid.
“The money belongs to the owner in perpetuity. Even if the owner dies, then their heirs could come back and claim it,” said Carolyn Atkinson, West Virginia’s deputy treasurer for unclaimed property and a past president of National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators.
Florida’s chief financial officer announced this month that the state had received 61,271 new unclaimed property accounts worth more than $25 million as part of a settlement with insurance company AIG (). The settlement is one of several reached last year with major insurers, including MetLife ( ), Prudential ( ) and Nationwide after regulators in 20 states audited the methods they used to locate life insurance beneficiaries after a policyholder’s death.
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The state auditors found that many insurers would use the Social Security Administration’s Death Master File to cancel annuity payments to clients who passed away, but not to start issuing payments to their beneficiaries. In some cases, companies would continue collecting premium payments from the policy’s value for years after the insured’s death; depleting the cash reserves down to zero.
Through the settlements, those balances are being reinstated and remitted to the states. But in many cases, beneficiaries remain unaware of their policy claim and many of their current addresses are unknown; making it hard for the funds to be giving to their rightful owner.
“Once it goes to the state, it’s unlikely that the rightful owner will be found,” said Mark Paolillo; a Massachusetts-based accountant and Ryan LLC’s abandoned and unclaimed property practice leader.
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- State-held unclaimed property: Visit NAUPA’s unclaimed.org for a map with links to each state’s program.
- Life insurance: For benefits not held by the state, check the insurer’s site directly. For example, MetLife has an online search.
- Pensions: For Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. benefits, visit the agency’s online search directory.
- U.S. savings bonds: More than 45 million matured savings bonds, worth nearly $16 billion, remain unredeemed, according to the U.S. Department of the Treasury. To search the database, visit treasuryhunt.gov.
- Tax refunds: In 2011, the Internal Revenue Service said it had $153.3 million in tax refund checks that were undeliverable. To make sure you’ve received your checks, visit the IRS’s Where’s my refund? tool.
- Overbid proceeds: If a foreclosed home or tax lien for delinquent taxes is sold at auction for a price above the money owed, the former property owner is owed the so-called “overbid proceeds,” which are typically held at the county level. But, counties typically send notifications about the funds to the foreclosed address. So many people remain unaware of the extra cash, according to Mary Pitman; author of “The Little Book of Missing Money.” These funds are different than other unclaimed funds; in that the property owner’s claim in some counties only last a few years. Contact the county clerk to find out which local agency holds the funds.
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