Unclaimed money sounds too good to be true, and if you get a call from someone offering free money, there’s a good chance it’s just a scam. But there is unclaimed money out there, and if you go looking for it yourself, you can avoid those scammers altogether. Here’s everything you need to know about where unclaimed money can be found and how to search for it on your own.
How can there be unclaimed money anywhere?
No one would pass up a few dollars sitting on the sidewalk, so how can there be unclaimed money anywhere? It’s hard to imagine, but the truth is that life just gets the best of people sometimes. You may not notice a letter reminding you of a refund or don’t keep careful track of how big the tax refund you should be getting is.
Not only can people lose track during the course of normal daily life, but sometimes unclaimed money loses track of people. If you’ve ever moved, changed jobs, or gone from being a student to working full time, it’s possible that notices about your money never reached you.
What kind of unclaimed money should I look for?
Back wages or pension
A lot of people have unpaid back wages due to them or pension money they don’t know about. To find wages and pensions, you have to contact the Department of Labor. In both cases, you need the name of the person who might be owed money as well as the name of the company they worked for.
Bank and credit union closures
Most banks and credit unions are covered by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, or FDIC. If these institutions should fail or close, any money you had in them is covered by the FDIC, and you can get it back. To look for this kind of unclaimed money, you need to hunt through the FDIC database.
State money and property
Every state has unclaimed money and property in stock certificates, insurance checks, bonds, unclaimed bank accounts, and lost checks. If the state can’t find the owners of these items, they are simply held in the hopes the owner eventually comes looking. To find this unclaimed money, you have to go directly to the state database for every state you’ve lived in.
Sometimes the IRS owes people money but can’t find them. This might happen if you moved before a refund check could reach you or a refund was reassessed later than normal and you weren’t made aware of it. To find this money, you have to reach out directly to the IRS.
Mortgage insurance refunds
Anyone who paid for mortgage insurance through the Federal Housing Administration may very well be due a refund. If you never received one, you have to look through the HUD database with your case number to find it.
It is not at all uncommon for someone to be a named beneficiary in a will and be unaware of it. The lawyers for a deceased person’s estate will make an effort to find all the beneficiaries, but they aren’t obligated to keep looking forever.
Rebates and refunds
This could be anything from an unclaimed rebate on something you purchased a long time ago to a refunded portion of a utility bill. Unfortunately, these can be very difficult to track down.
Searching for missing money
Doing your own search for unclaimed money can involve more time and effort than you have to give. An unclaimed money search through a third-party makes it a lot more feasible to locate the money you’re owed. Without third party help, you have to go to every database on your own, and it can be easy to miss something important.
There’s around $60 billion in unclaimed money and property in the United States just waiting for the rightful owners to find it. Even if you think there’s nothing out there for you, you just never know until you look.