How to Claim Missing Money

A successful missing-money search can boost your bank account.
... Jupiterimages/Stockbyte/Getty Images

Despite the gimmicky nature of ads promoting privately held companies that help you search for unclaimed funds, it is entirely possible that you have money being held by your state government. Even if your biggest independent financial accomplishments involve opening checking accounts and renting apartments, you need to search for missing money through official state government search engines. You may be surprised by your results and the straightforward search, identification and claim process.

Visit the portal for unclaimed money. This official federal government website provides links to each state's search engine for unclaimed money.

Click on your state's website through the portal to search for unclaimed funds within your state. For example, a Wisconsin resident must visit the state's Office of the Treasury website to start a search.

Read your state's search options and locate a button with a command such as "Search for missing money" or "Search for unclaimed property." Select the most relevant search and click through to the next page.

Enter your first and last name in your state's search form. Some forms also feature optional fields for your city or county and allow you to add a property identification number if you are searching for information about a certain parcel of land.

Review any potential claims that appear on your screen after executing your search. If you find a match for your name, click it and review the information. For example, if a result features your full name and lists a financial institution where you had a savings account, you need to file a claim to determine whether the funds are yours.

Fill out the web form provided by your state. These forms generally ask for your name, address and phone number, and may request your Social Security number and birthday. Submit the form after reviewing your information.

Follow your state's instructions for the next step in the process. You may need to print a form and submit it, along with copies of personal documents, such as your birth certificate or driver's license, to verify your identity. Your state may also offer you the option of having a paper form delivered through the mail.

Fill out your claim form and submit all necessary documentation to the state. After your paperwork is received, your claim will be reviewed. If you are found to be the owner of missing money, the state will send a check for the amount of the claim.

Repeat this process for any other state you have lived in as an adult. For example, if you maintained a checking account while attending college in Illinois and rented an apartment in Michigan for your first job, run an unclaimed-funds check in Illinois, Michigan and your current home state.

  • Avoid providing your personal information to third-party sites and services that promise to locate missing money for you for a fee. If you have unclaimed funds, your state's website and search feature will locate it, and the state governments shouldn't demand a fee either.
  • If you have changed your name at any time, search each variation of your name in every state of residence.

Ashley Mott has 12 years of small business management experience and a BSBA in accounting from Columbia. She is a full-time government and public safety reporter for Gannett.