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Everything You Need to Know About Unclaimed Money

If you have ever received a notice stating you’ve got unclaimed money waiting to be collected, your first instinct might be that you’re being scammed but you very well might not be.

Throughout the United States, there are millions of dollars waiting to be claimed from state governments. Although you may think that it sounds too good to be true if you get a notice asserting you’ve got unclaimed money, you should most definitely look into it.

Defining Unclaimed Money

To put it briefly, unclaimed money, also called unclaimed property, is money that gets turned over to the government when the rightful owner cannot be contacted or fails to collect it. Having unclaimed money is more common than you would think.

Unclaimed money comes from various places. A lot of people have opened savings accounts to save small amounts of money and then moved states forgetting to provide a forwarding address. In other situations, simply overpaying a bill and never collecting the overpayment can result in unclaimed property.

When this happens, banking institutions or companies that don’t know where to send a check turn the money over to the state. That means you could have unclaimed money that you don’t even know about.

Where Does Unclaimed Money Come From?

There are many instances that result in unclaimed money, definitely more than you would likely presume. Some of the most common instances include:

  • Checking accounts
  • Missing tax refunds
  • Savings accounts
  • Payroll checks
  • Investment accounts
  • Trust distributions
  • Overpayments
  • Life insurance payouts
  • Utility security deposits
  • Safety deposit boxes

How to Find Unclaimed Money

Although the average collection is only around $50 to $100, it can be more. It’s possible that you have unclaimed money throughout the United States. If you’ve lived in multiple states within your lifetime, your search should begin there.

Sites like Unclaimed Money have made it easy to check each state you’ve lived in and make sure you don’t miss anything. If you want to check for yourself, follow these steps:

  1. Visit Unclaimed Money's website for each state individually by clicking on each state in which you’ve lived on their interactive map. You will then be redirected to that state’s website.
  2. For each state you will be prompted to enter your first and last name or company name to search for unclaimed money. For more accurate searches, you can provide a city and/or zip code.
  3. If you’ve exhausted your state resources, a popular website that searches across national agencies is Missing Money.

Where to Look for Unclaimed Money

Although your first step should be to start with a state search, I also recommend searching federal tax refunds. If you’re missing your refund, the IRS offers a feature to search for your refund check. To take advantage of the IRS’ free feature, visit the refund section of their website.

Credit unions and retirement money are two other popular places to search for your unclaimed money. Visit the National Credit Union Administration at and follow the steps to search for your unclaimed money that credit unions may be holding for you.

To search for unclaimed retirement money, I recommend visiting two federal sites and follow the steps to get reunited with your rightful money:  Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation and the Department of Labor.

Claim Your Money Today

Don’t take a chance to miss out on free money. You’ve got nothing to lose, so start your search for your unclaimed money today. You may be surprised at what you find.

Even if you utilize one of the websites above and do a search only to find that you don’t have any unclaimed money, let this serve as a reminder to continuously keep your contact information up to date. Always be sure to update your forwarding address for any of your financial institutions and follow up on any overpaid bills or outstanding financial discrepancies. These simple tactics will help safeguard your money from becoming estranged from you.

Recent articles by Jack Brkich III: Your 40s Is Not Too Late to Save for Retirement