There’s a lot of frozen money out there that no one is claiming .. it’s in the billions. Some put the figure as high as $40 billion! Is any of it yours? Some of it could be if you’ve ever moved to another state or to another residence; if you’ve changed your name; if you’ve forgotten about a small bank account or a few shares of stock; or if a distant relative left you something in a life insurance policy or will.
Here are some of the most common forms of unclaimed money:
- Inactive bank accounts, both checking and savings
- Unfound life insurance or other account beneficiaries
- Tax refunds that were misdirected
- Unreturned utility deposits and escrow accounts
- Refunds and credits
- Stocks, mutual funds, bonds, and dividends
- Uncashed checks and wages
- Insurance policies, CDs, trust funds
- Unredeemed money orders or travelers checks
- Unclaimed safe deposit boxes
If you’d like to check to see if there is any unclaimed money due you, here’s a tip:
The best place to start is MissingMoney.com.
This site is the only only free, state endorsed national database of missing money. The site is officially endorsed by NAUPA (National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators) and participating states and provinces. The site will assist you in thoroughly searching all participating states to find your family’s missing, lost, and unclaimed property, money and assets. It has the most updated information for the state and provincial offices. Searches and claiming are always FREE.
We tried it out and found a $65 insurance policy refund from a neighboring state we lived in more than 10 years ago. We filed a claim and the money will be sent to us. You can search the entire database or confine to a specific state. Don’t forget to search by any variations in your name. Here are some search tips and frequently asked questions.
Other resources for unclaimed money
While MissingMoney.com is the best site, you can also check these sources, too:
- Search by individual state site.
- Search the federal government. While the federal government does not have one specific site to search, you can find a list of places to check at Unclaimed Money from the Government. It will point you to resources for finding things like veteran life insurance policies, federal tax rebates, savings bonds, FHA refunds, and more.
- Consumer Reports says that the average unclaimed life benefit is $2,000. They offer tips: How to claim an unclaimed life-insurance policy
- Insurance Information Institute offers 12 Easy Steps To Locating Lost Life Insurance Policy Documents.
Scam alert – don’t get hooked
Beware of scams related to unclaimed money. While we’d all like to think that we won some money that we didn’t know about or have a distant wealthy deceased aunt who left us her fortune, it’s not likely to be true. Scammers thrive on our hopes, fantasies and greed – don’t give them the opportunity.
- Beware of emails and phone calls that alert you to winnings or other unclaimed money. State and federal authorities do not use email or phone to notify you of unclaimed money. The IRS will never threaten you to “pay now or else.”
- Beware of people who ask for bank or credit card information or personal details to process your winnings/inheritance.
- Be careful of unauthorized search sites that charge a fee to use. Stick to the sites we’ve mentioned or call your state’s unclaimed money office or insurance bureau if you have questions.
- Beware of people who try to charge you. While there are some legitimate finder businesses that search for lost property owners and offer to inform them of how to obtain their property for a fee, most “out of the blue” alerts should be treated with a high degree of suspicion. NAUPA recommends that “Before signing any contract from a firm of this type, we recommend that you be cautious and contact the unclaimed property office in your state for more information.” Plus, you are better running your own searches periodically and avoiding any fees!
Check out these scam alerts: