In this article, Unclaimed money refers to funds belonging to you that you have yet to claim, such as from an old bank account, a tax refund, a pension plan, an insurance policy, or a class action settlement. Estimates show there may be billions in unclaimed funds waiting to be claimed by their rightful owners.
If you suspect you might have unclaimed money, here are a few steps you can take to discover and claim it.
Step 1: Search for Unclaimed Money Online
Step one is to search online databases and websites for unclaimed funds. Some of the more popular options include:
- [Unclaimed.org]: This is the official site of the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators (NAUPA), an association representing state governments that hold unclaimed money. Here, you can search by state and type of property to locate any unclaimed money you might find there.
- [USA.gov]: This official US government website features links to federal agencies holding unclaimed money, such as the IRS, FDIC, Treasury, and Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation.
- [TreasuryHunt.gov]: is an official US Department of the Treasury website that allows users to search for unclaimed savings bonds and payments that may still exist in unclaimed account.
When searching online for unclaimed money, ensure you provide accurate and complete information, such as your full name, date of birth, social security number, address history, and email address. In some instances, you may need proof of identity and ownership, such as a driver’s license, passport, birth certificate, or utility bill.
Step 2: Claim Your Unclaimed Money
Once you discover unclaimed money, the next step is claiming it. Depending on its source and amount, claiming may take place online, via mail, phone, or in person, although you may also need to pay fees or taxes associated with it.
Here are a few strategies for recovering unclaimed funds:
- Follow the requirements and instructions set forth by the organization that holds your money, such as their forms, deadlines, and processes for claiming it.
- Keep copies of all documents and correspondence related to your claim as evidence, should any disputes or delays arise.
- Be wary of scams and fraudsters that attempt to charge upfront fees or request personal data in return for finding or claiming your funds. Never pay anyone purporting to represent an agency or organization holding your funds; only contact the official sources listed above or via their websites.
- Be patient and persistent. It may take several weeks or months before your claim can be processed and verified. If there are any delays, contact the agency that holds your money and request an update or explanation from them.
Step 3: Manage Your Unclaimed Money
Once you receive unclaimed money, the third step should be managing it wisely and responsibly. There may be many uses for it; debt repayment, retirement savings plans, or charity donations might all come to mind as possibilities. Whatever path you decide to take with your funds should always be done with care and responsibility.
Management tips for unclaimed money:
- Create a budget and financial plan tailored to your goals and needs, seeking assistance from a financial advisor or planner where necessary.
- Pay attention to the taxes and fees associated with your money. Depending on the source and amount, taxes may need to be reported and paid on it; additionally, fees may need to be paid when cashing checks, transferring funds, or opening accounts.
- Maintain an accurate record of your finances by tracking balances, transactions, statements, receipts, and alerts using online tools or apps.
- Protect both your money and identity from theft or fraud by employing secure passwords, encryption software, antivirus protection software, firewalls, and/or shredding documents with sensitive data prior to disposing of them.
FAQ: The Ultimate Guide to Your Questions
Here are the answers to some frequently asked questions about unclaimed funds:
Q: How much unclaimed money is there in the US?
A: According to NAUPA, over $58 billion of unclaimed state government money in the US remains unclaimed, not counting any unclaimed federal agency money, which may exceed this estimate by billions more.
Q: How long does unclaimed money stay unclaimed?
A: Claiming unclaimed money depends on both state law and property type; some states don’t set time limits, while others set them between 3 and 5 years. After these deadlines pass, states may use or transfer any unclaimed funds back into general funds for public purposes.
Q: How can I avoid having unclaimed money in the future?
A: One way to prevent unclaimed money in the future is to ensure all personal and financial data are accurate and current. Furthermore, regularly review accounts, statements, and records for any errors or discrepancies, as well as claim any money you are entitled to, such as tax refunds, dividends, interest, or inheritance payments, as quickly as possible.