According to unclaimed funds estimates data compiled by the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators, roughly $33 billion is left unclaimed by people who are unaware that they have money owed to them. The list of the common types of unclaimed money is enormous, and includes such funds as dormant bank accounts, undistributed wages, life insurance policy revenues, safe deposit box contents, stocks, mutual fund accounts, bonds, uncashed dividends, and so forth. The best way to find lost money that might belong to you is to do a thorough search of your own.
Go back over your personal family history. Make a list of all of your past and current addresses, including cities and states. Also, list former employers, and account information of previous banking, investment, and insurance accounts. Assemble a profile of names with possible variations such as Greg A. Jones, G. A. Jones, Gregory Abraham Jones, an so on. If you are a married woman, list your maiden name. If you are searching for possible lost money from heirs, do so using the same listing criteria.
Check every state database for lost money. It doesn't matter if you've only lived in one state. You may still have unclaimed money in states that you have never even visited, let alone lived in. You could be owed unclaimed money from a life insurance policy from a company in Nebraska, because that company is located in Nebraska. Thus, the funds would be collected in the Nebraska state database. So, make certain to check every state database for unclaimed money. You can do this through the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators link in the References section.
Use a one-stop shop database. One that you might want to consider is a site called missingmoney.com. It's a quality database that is endorsed by NAUPA (National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators), and includes reports of unclaimed money in almost every state in the U.S., and is updated regularly.
Unclaimed HUD (Housing and Urban Development) funds are another source for finding unclaimed money. If you owned a home that was taken over by the government because it was considered condemned, then you may very well be eligible for a refund from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Find out if there's a refund for you through the link in the References section.
Check the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation. Sadly, companies go bankrupt. When this happens, employees can end up not only losing their jobs, but also their pensions. When a company goes out of business, the pension plan is generally shifted to the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC). If you were laid off by a company that went out of business, you may still be eligible for any pension earned while you were employed. You should find out by inquiring at the Missing Participants service of the PBGC to see if any money is owed to you.
- Always check with the unclaimed property department within your state government before signing a contract with a property search firm.
- Keep accurate and current records of bank accounts, insurance policies, stock certificates, utility and rent deposits, and safe deposit box locations.
- Keep accounts active through customer-initiated contact with the holders of your property, through activity on your account.
- Notify a family member or trusted adviser of the location of your records. Notify all institutions every time you move.
- If you choose to use a service to locate your unclaimed funds for you, make sure to use one that is licensed or registered by your state.
- Never randomly pay someone who simply advertises their unclaimed money locator service.
- Every state and most Canadian provinces has a free online database where you can check your name.