Yes, you read that correctly. The government has your money. And no, this is not another tax refund. According to the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators (NAUPA), state governments are holding approximately $41.7 billion of unclaimed property (unclaimed money). Do you know much of the $41.7 billion belongs to you?
Companies are required to send any money owed a person to his or her last known address. If they are not responsive, the company is required to turn over the funds to the state. State Treasury Departments hold unclaimed property for individuals living in their state at the time the property was “lost.” As a result, you could have money in every state that you lived. States reunite the rightful owner, or their heirs, with their property. The state holds unclaimed property, but there are some notable exceptions, such as retirement accounts and insurance, listed below.
In addition to unclaimed funds held by state governments, a survey by Consumer Reports found that there’s “at least $1 billion in benefits from misplaced or forgotten life-insurance policies.” The average unclaimed insurance benefit is $2,000. At 1 in 600, there’s a better chance that you are a beneficiary of an unclaimed life insurance policy than winning the lottery.
Myth: I haven’t owned any property in any state, so I can’t have unclaimed property.
Truth: Most states define unclaimed property as financial accounts that have been inactive for over a year. These financial accounts include bank accounts, stocks, uncashed payroll checks, and the contents of safe deposit boxes. Most people don’t abandon their money purposely. Moving to a new address, losing a check in the mail, or dying can cause money to go “unclaimed.” I found an old paycheck from college on my state’s site a few years ago.
Myth: I have to pay to locate unclaimed funds
Truth: Most states return unclaimed funds to you at no cost or for a small filing fee, so there’s no need to pay a search firm. However, some businesses conduct unclaimed property searches for a fee. Others will find lost property and charge based on a percentage of located assets. Unfortunately, there are also fraudulent companies which will charge hundreds of dollars up front and return nothing. Check with the state’s Treasury Department if you decide to go with a search firm to ensure they are an approved and legitimate company.
Where can I search for my funds?
Start with your state’s unclaimed property website by googling, “[your state] unclaimed property.” For example, “Pennsylvania Unclaimed Property.” You can also do a free search at MissingMoney.com or Unclaimed.org. The “.ORG” is important because unclaimed.com is a paid site.
Pension benefits – Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp
Old 401(k) accounts – National Registry of Unclaimed Retirement Benefits
Railroad retirement benefits – Railroad Retirement Board
Veterans Administration Benefits – http://www.insurance.va.gov/liability/ufsearch.htm
Banks that closed between January 1, 1989, and June 28, 1993 – FDIC – Unclaimed Funds.
If your credit union credit union was liquidated – NCUA – Unclaimed Deposits.
Forgotten or Lost Savings Bonds – Treasury Hunt.
FHA-insured mortgage – https://entp.hud.gov/dsrs/refunds/.
There are six companies committed to reuniting beneficiaries with their funds. You must contact them directly for additional information.
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