By Michael Wong | November 30, 2018.
Find Unclaimed Money That's Rightfully Yours
- NAUPA (National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators)
- Wage and Hour Division
- PBGC (Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation)
- Unclaimed Tax Refunds
- Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC)
- FDIC (Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation) Unclaimed Funds
- SEC (Securities and Exchange Commission) Enforcement Actions
- FHA/HUD Refund
- Treasury Hunt
What Is Unclaimed Money?
"Tens of billions of dollars" sit in financial institutional accounts and companies that have generated no activity or had any contact with the owner for over a year. The money is just waiting to be claimed by their rightful owners.
Common unclaimed money include:
- bank checking/savings accounts
- certificates of deposit
- customer overpayments
- escrow accounts
- insurance policies/payments/refunds
- mineral royalty payments
- payroll checks
- safe deposit box contents or the proceeds from the auction of the items within
- stocks, mutual funds, bonds and dividends
- traveler's checks
- trust funds
- uncashed checks and wages
- unredeemed money orders or gift certificates (some states)
- utility security deposits
Could you have claims to some of that unclaimed money?
If you think you may, then I will share with you how to find out where to look for unclaimed money that is rightfully yours.
It doesn't cost you a penny to find unclaimed money that is rightfully yours. So in a way it's "free money."
Unclaimed Money Facts
Here are some interesting unclaimed money facts:
- $41.7 billion is waiting to be returned by state unclaimed property programs.
- In 2011, 2.5 million claims totaling $2.25 billion were returned to their rightful owners as a result of state unclaimed property program efforts. The average claim was $892.
- Unclaimed property programs are active in:
- every US state, District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands
- Quebec, British Columbia and Alberta in Canada
- Claims can be made indefinitely in most cases - even by heirs.
- Companies are required by law to send funds from lost accounts to the state of the owner's last known address.
- Unclaimed property laws have been around since the 1930s and is one of the original consumer protection programs.
Pay A Fee To Conduct Search Notices On Your Behalf
Some firms use a state's freedom of information act to obtain owner information and notify individuals that they will conduct a search for unclaimed money for you in return for a fee.
They typically charge 10% of the unclaimed money value.
Many states do not provide complete records to these firms to protect your privacy.
Pay A Fee To Get Money Found Notices
There are businesses, sometimes called “Finders” or “Locators,” which find legitimate lost money for owners.
They offer to inform the owner on how to obtain unclaimed money for a fee, usually a percentage of the total (some states limit the fee to 10%).
The finder firm will ask you to sign a contract. Be cautious of signing any contract. Make sure you understand what you are signing. Read the small print.
Sometimes, companies hire finder firms to find you before they turn the money over to the state. The majority of these firms work within the law, but there are some unclaimed money scams. So be careful.
Like I said earlier, it doesn't cost you a penny to find and claim money that is rightfully yours. But if you don't care to invest the time required, then you could pass the job onto one of these companies.
Unclaimed Money Scams
Beware of people who pretend to be the government and offer to send you unclaimed money for a fee. These scammers use a variety of tricks to get your attention, but their goal is the same: to get you to send them money first.
A state's unclaimed property agency may contact you to reunite you with your lost money. But government agencies do not call people about unclaimed money or assets.
Top 10 Sites To Find Unclaimed Money That's Rightfully Yours
The first place to look for unclaimed money is with the help of these two free websites:
- MissingMoney lets you search all participating state unclaimed money databases.
- Find your family's missing, lost, and unclaimed property, money and assets.
- Common types of unclaimed money include:
- bank accounts and safe deposit box contents
- stocks, mutual funds, bonds, and dividends
- uncashed checks and wages
- insurance policies, CD's, trust funds
- utility deposits, escrow accounts
- Searches and claims are always free.
- Data is refreshed and new unclaimed properties added weekly from participating states and provinces.
- Officially endorsed by NAUPA and participating states and provinces.
- NAUPA is the national association of the state unclaimed property programs.
- Search state-by-state on individual unclaimed property programs.
- The databases are located and maintained by each state, not NAUPA.
- Fraudulent unclaimed money letters:
- NAUPA are warning consumers to be on their guard against fraudulent letters arriving by mail and email, supposedly from NAUPA, alleging that they have found unclaimed money.
- These deceptive messages use fake NAUPA letterhead and request money be sent to claim the unclaimed money.
- Fraudsters also target potential victims over the phone with similar tactics.
- The state unclaimed money agencies themselves regularly contact rightful owners in an effort to reunite them with their lost property, but NAUPA does not notify owners of forgotten or missing money.
- Report suspicious unclaimed money email messages and websites to the FBI Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) at http://c1ick.us/ic3.
US Government Websites
Find unclaimed money with these websites. They all belong to the United States government so you can rest assured they are all legitimate.
Find Unclaimed Back Wages
- If you think you may be owed back wages from your current or previous employer, search the United States Department of Labor's Wage and Hour Division (WHD) database.
- The WHD enforces labor laws. When they find violations, they often recover unpaid wages on behalf of employees. The WHD will try to locate and notify employees due back wages. If they cannot find an employee, they hold their back wages for three years. After three years, they are required to send the money to the US Treasury.
Find Unclaimed Pension
- The PBGC Unclaimed Pensions Search website lists over 72,000 unclaimed pensions at the time of writing.
- Search for unclaimed pensions from former employers that went out of business or ended a defined plan.
- If you find your name on the list, you verify your identity which generally takes four to six weeks.
- When the PBGC establish you are owed a benefit, you may apply for it at any time.
- If you are at retirement age, they will send your first payment within two months. Otherwise, you will receive your benefits at retirement age.
Find Unclaimed Tax Refunds
- If you earned income in the last few years and had taxes withheld from your wages, but were not required to file a tax return because of too little income, you may be able to claim a refund for the tax that was withheld from your pay.
- To claim a refund, a return must be filed with the IRS no later than 3 years from the due date of the return.
- There is no penalty assessed by the IRS for filing a late return qualifying for a refund.
- The IRS also has millions of dollars in checks returned as undeliverable each year. One of those could be yours.
Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC)
- If you are a low income earner and did not have any tax withheld, you may qualify for an Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) refund.
- To qualify, you must meet certain requirements and file a tax return, even if you do not owe any tax or are not required to file.
Find Failed Bank Deposits
- Search the FDIC for unclaimed funds from failed financial institutions.
- The FDIC is a US government corporation providing deposit insurance to financial institutions and their depositors.
- If a financial institution is closed by a regulatory agency, the FDIC is appointed as Receiver and is responsible for the payment of insured deposits and the liquidation of the remaining assets. If you did not claim your funds previously you have another opportunity to do so.
Investment Fraud Loss Claims
- If you have lost money to fraudulent investment schemes, search/browse the 200+ SEC enforcement actions to see whether there is compensation paid by defendants or respondents to satisfy a judgment and the SEC.
- The SEC, in its discretion, may seek to distribute funds paid by defendants or respondents for the benefit of harmed investors.
FHA/HUD Mortgage Insurance Premium Refund
- If you had a Federal Housing Association (FHA) insured mortgage, you may be eligible for a refund from the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) or FHA.
- Search the HUD database with your last name or FHA case number (3 digits, a dash, and the next 6 digits - for example, 051-456789).
- Beware of people (known as “tracers”) offering to help you collect your refund for a fee. You do not need to pay someone to collect your refund. You can obtain your refund directly from HUD, for free.
Find Savings Bonds That No Longer Earn Interest
- Every year 15,000 savings bonds and 25,000 payments are returned to the Department of the Treasury as undeliverable.
- Billions of dollars in savings bonds have stopped earning interest but have not been cashed.
- The Treasury Hunt database is no longer available.
- Instead, you must submit a claim for lost, stolen or destroyed United States savings bonds, using “FS Form 1048,” available for download at http://c1ick.us/fsform1048.
- To figure out whether your savings bonds have stopped earning interest without searching the Treasury Hunt database: