In this article, Unclaimed money is money that belongs to you but has been forgotten or lost in some way. It could be from bank accounts, shares, investments, life insurance policies, or other sources. You may have unclaimed money if you:
- Moved house and did not update your address with your bank or other financial institutions.
- Changed your name after marriage or divorce and did not notify your bank or other financial institutions.
- Had a relative die and leave you money or assets that you did not know about?
- Had a business that closed down and left some money in its accounts.
- Did not claim a tax refund, dividend, or interest payment.
Unclaimed money is held by various government agencies or private companies until the rightful owner claims it. In some cases, there may be a time limit for claiming your money, after which it may be transferred to the government’s consolidated revenue fund or donated to charity.
Step 1: How to find out if you have unclaimed money
There are several ways to find out if you have unclaimed money, including:
- Visiting one of your state’s official unclaimed property outreach events These are usually held at public places such as shopping malls, libraries, or fairs. You can check your state’s unclaimed property website for the schedule of upcoming events.
- Searching online using one of two key online search resources:
- The National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators (NAUPA) website provides links to the official unclaimed property websites of each state and some Canadian provinces. You can search by your name, address, or social security number.
- Contacting the federal government agencies that may hold your unclaimed money, such as:
- The Internal Revenue Service (IRS), which may have your unclaimed tax refunds, You can check the status of your refund online or call 1-800-829-1954.
- The Social Security Administration (SSA), which may have your unclaimed retirement benefits, disability benefits, or survivor benefits You can call 1-800-772-1213 or visit their website for more information.
- The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), which may have your unclaimed pension benefits, education benefits, or insurance benefits You can call 1-800-827-1000 or visit their website for more information.
- The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), which may have your unclaimed mortgage insurance refunds. You can call 1-800-697-6967 or visit their website for more information.
- The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), which may have your unclaimed wages, pension benefits, or workers’ compensation benefits. You can call 1-866-4-USA-DOL or visit their website for more information.
- The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), which may have your unclaimed bank accounts from failed banks, You can call 1-888-206-4662 or visit their website for more information.
- The National Credit Union Administration (NCUA), which may have your unclaimed credit union accounts from liquidated credit unions, You can call 1-800-755-1030 or visit their website for more information.
- The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), which may have your unclaimed securities from bankrupt companies, You can call 1-800-SEC-0330 or visit their website for more information.
- The Treasury Department, which may have your unclaimed savings bonds, Treasury notes, Treasury bills, or Treasury bonds You can call 1-844-284-2676 or visit their website for more information.
Step 2: How to claim your unclaimed money
If you find out that you have unclaimed money, you will need to follow the instructions provided by the agency or company that holds it. You will usually need to fill out a claim form and provide proof of your identity and ownership of the money. This may include:
- Your full name and current address
- Your previous names and addresses
- Your social security number or taxpayer identification number
- Your date of birth and place of birth
- Your driver’s license number or passport number
- Your bank account number or other financial account number
- Your original deposit receipts, statements, certificates, policies, contracts, or other documents related to the money.
You may also need to provide additional documents if you are claiming the money on behalf of someone else, such as:
- A death certificate and a will or trust document if you are the heir or beneficiary of the deceased owner.
- A marriage certificate or divorce decree if you are the spouse or former spouse of the owner.
- A power of attorney or guardianship document if you are the legal representative or guardian of the owner.
- A court order or affidavit if you are the executor or administrator of the owner’s estate.
You should contact the agency or company that holds your unclaimed money as soon as possible to start the claim process. You should also keep copies of all the documents you submit and follow up with them regularly until you receive your money.
Step 3: How to prevent your money from becoming unclaimed
To avoid losing track of your money and having it become unclaimed, you should:
- Keep your personal and financial records organized and updated. Store them in a safe place, and make sure your family members know where to find them.
- Notify your bank, insurance company, brokerage firm, employer, and other financial institutions of any changes in your name, address, phone number, email address, or marital status.
- Review your bank statements, investment statements, insurance policies, tax returns, and other financial documents regularly. Check for any errors, discrepancies, or unclaimed amounts.
- Cash or deposit any checks you receive as soon as possible. Do not let them expire or become stale.
- Redeem or reinvest any matured bonds, certificates of deposit, dividends, interest payments, or other financial assets.
- Claim any benefits you are entitled to from your retirement plan, pension plan, social security, veterans affairs, or other government programs.
- Make a will or trust and name your beneficiaries. Update it periodically and inform your heirs of its existence and location.
FAQ: The Ultimate Guide to Your Questions
Q: How much unclaimed money is there in the U.S.?
A: According to NAUPA, there is more than $58 billion of unclaimed money in the U.S. as of 2023. This amount is growing every year as more money is added and less money is claimed.
Q: How long does it take to claim my unclaimed money?
A: The time it takes to claim your unclaimed money depends on the agency or company that holds it and the complexity of your claim. It may take anywhere from a few weeks to several months or even years.
Q: Do I have to pay any fees or taxes to claim my unclaimed money?
A: You should not have to pay any fees to claim your unclaimed money from a legitimate government agency or private company. However, you may have to pay taxes on some types of unclaimed money, such as interest income, dividends, capital gains, or retirement benefits. You should consult a tax professional for advice on your specific situation.
Q: How can I avoid scams related to unclaimed money?
A: You should be wary of any unsolicited phone calls, emails, letters, or websites that claim to have found your unclaimed money and ask you to pay a fee or provide personal information to claim it. These are likely scams that aim to steal your money or identity. You should never give out your personal or financial information to anyone you do not know or trust. You should also report any suspicious activity to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) at 1-877-FTC-HELP or online.