You're Probably Owed Almost $200: Here's Where to Claim It

By Andrea Cannon on 5 April 2016 0 comments

Do you want free money? We thought so. After all, who couldn't use a little extra dough — especially when it's free and unexpected? Fortunately, there may be lost money in your name, just waiting to be claimed.

What Are Unclaimed Funds?

Unclaimed funds are held by the government and may be owed to you. This commonly happens when money goes missing due to lost contact or a period of inactivity from one to five years. If you moved without sending a forwarding address to certain financial institutions, for example, then there may be money waiting for you.

There is currently about $41.7 billion in unclaimed property and a total of $58 billion in unclaimed cash and benefits. This results in about $186 owed to every American, on average. So, there is a very good chance that money is hidden somewhere with your name on it. Some payouts are as high as $300,000, while the average unclaimed benefit is $892 — so it is definitely worth a quick search.

Common sources of unclaimed funds include:

  • Money from the IRS: This can be from an unclaimed or undelivered tax refund check.
     
  • Old bank accounts and safe deposit boxes: If you have a number of bank accounts or keep small amounts of money spread out over various places, you may have forgotten about money in one of those accounts.
     
  • Life insurance policies.
     
  • Unclaimed back wages.
     
  • Stocks, bonds, dividends, and CDs.
     
  • Escrow accounts.

Check Your State's Site

Each state has its own unclaimed money page, which can help you determine if there are unclaimed funds in your name. To get started, simply type in your first and last name. A list of everyone with unclaimed money (with your name) will appear and all you need to do is search for your address among the names displayed.

Where to Search

If you believe you are owed money for a specific reason (such as unpaid wages), then the government can help you find it. They offer information on where to look for that specific source of income, and can help you avoid unclaimed money scams.

For instance, they can connect you with the United States Department of Labor, where you can find owed wages by searching for your employer's name.

You can also search directly for:

The government does not have one central website where you can find unclaimed money. Fortunately, the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators (NAUPA) offers a state-by-state search for unclaimed property. Here, you can search each state that you've lived in on one site. They can also connect you with all the sources for unclaimed property.

Sites like MissingMoney.com (which is exclusively endorsed by NAUPA) can search all participating states to quickly find any unclaimed property or money. This way, you don't have to visit each state's site separately. This can be especially helpful if you have lived in various states. However, not every state is represented on the site.

Get the Most From the Search

When you are searching for free money in your name, make sure to look at all the states you've lived in. Make sure to also check under both your married and maiden name, as well as under any nicknames you commonly use.

What Does It Cost?

It is fast, easy, and completely free to search for lost money in your name. After all, it is your money, and it's just waiting for you to find it.

What If You Find Free Money?

If you discover lost money, it is also completely free to claim it. You simply contact your state to reclaim the money. Once you complete a simple claim inquiry, the state will contact you with further details. You will likely need to file a claim electronically or through the mail to claim the proceeds. The entire process generally takes about three to four months.

Recovering Funds for Deceased Family Members

If you discover lost money in the name of a deceased relative, the rightful heir can claim it. After all, the money belonged to your relative, not the government, so their heirs now have a right to it. In fact, about one out of every 600 people are the beneficiaries of unclaimed life insurance policies. Your state will require certain legal documents for verification, which may include a will or death certificate.

Scams and Locator Companies

Unfortunately, there are a number of unclaimed money scams from people who want to steal your personal information. There are also a number of locator companies who will charge a fee to help you find unclaimed property in your name, or in the name of a family member. Your best defense against these potential fraudsters is to do the search yourself. Even if you have moved around a lot, the free online search should only take a matter of minutes.

Have you claimed lost money? How much did you get?

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You're Probably Owed Almost 200 Dollars: Heres Where to Claim It

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