In this article, Unclaimed money is any financial asset that has been abandoned or forgotten by its rightful owner for a long period of time. Examples of unclaimed money include bank accounts, dividends, insurance policies, pensions, tax refunds, and more. According to the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators (NAUPA), there is an estimated $58 billion of unclaimed money in the United States.
But can you claim unclaimed money that isn’t yours? The answer is “no, unless you have a legal right to do so. Claiming unclaimed money that belongs to someone else is considered fraud and can result in criminal charges. However, there are some legitimate ways to find and claim unclaimed money that you may be entitled to. Here are some of them:
Step 1: Check your state’s unclaimed property database
Each state has its own unclaimed property program that collects and holds unclaimed money until the rightful owners or heirs come forward to claim it.
You can search for unclaimed money in your state by visiting the official website of your state’s unclaimed property office , which is endorsed by NAUPA.
You will need to provide some personal information, such as your name, address, and social security number, to verify your identity and claim your money. You may also need to provide proof of ownership, such as a bank statement, a check, or a death certificate, depending on the type and amount of money you are claiming.
Step 2: Search for Unclaimed Money from Federal Agencies
Some federal agencies also hold unclaimed money that may belong to you. For example, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) may owe you a tax refund that you did not claim or receive; the Social Security Administration (SSA) may owe you retirement or disability benefits that you did not apply for or collect; or the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) may owe you compensation or pension benefits that you did not receive.
You can search for unclaimed money from federal agencies by visiting their respective websites or by using the free online tool [USA.gov], which provides links to various federal sources of unclaimed money.
Step 3: Hire a Professional Finder or Heir Finder
If you do not have the time or the skills to search for unclaimed money on your own, you can hire a professional finder or heir finder to do it for you. A professional finder is someone who searches for unclaimed money on behalf of others and charges a fee for their service.
An heir finder is someone who searches for unclaimed money on behalf of potential heirs who may not be aware of their inheritance. However, before hiring a professional finder or heir finder, you should be aware of the following:
- You should never pay any upfront fees or charges to a professional heir finder. They should only charge a percentage of the money they recover for you after you receive it.
- You should never sign any contract or agreement with a professional finder or heir finder without reading it carefully and understanding it fully. You should also consult a lawyer if you have any doubts or questions about the contract or agreement.
- You should never give any personal or financial information to a professional finder or heir finder without verifying their identity and credentials. You should also check their reputation and references before hiring them.
- You should be wary of any professional finder or heir finder who claims that they have found a large amount of money that belongs to you and asks you to pay taxes, fees, or other charges before you can claim it. This is likely a scam, and you should report it to your state’s attorney general or consumer protection office.
FAQ: The Ultimate Guide to Your Questions
Q: How long does it take to claim unclaimed money?
A: The time it takes to claim unclaimed money depends on several factors, such as the type and amount of money, the state or agency holding it, and the documentation required to prove your ownership. Generally, it can take anywhere from a few weeks to several months to process your claim and receive your money.
Q: How can I avoid losing track of my money?
A: To avoid losing track of your money, you should do the following:
1. Keep your personal and financial records updated and organized.
2. Notify your bank, employer, insurer, and other financial institutions of any changes in your name, address, phone number, email address, or marital status.
3. Cash or deposit any checks you receive as soon as possible.
4. Review your bank statements, credit card statements, and other financial statements regularly and report any errors or discrepancies.
5. Claim any tax refunds, benefits, dividends, interest, or other payments that you are entitled to.
6. Make a will and inform your family members and beneficiaries of your assets and wishes.
Q: How can I find out if I have unclaimed money in other countries?
A: If you have lived, worked, or had financial dealings in other countries, you may have unclaimed money in those countries as well. However, finding and claiming unclaimed money in other countries can be more difficult and complicated than in the United States. You may need to contact the relevant authorities or agencies in those countries, follow their rules and procedures, and provide additional documentation or evidence. You may also need to deal with language barriers, currency conversions, taxes, fees, or other issues. Therefore, you may want to seek professional advice or assistance if you are looking for unclaimed money in other countries.