How To Find Unclaimed Or Forgotten Money

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found money

Ever forgotten to cash a check? Or have no idea if you were named as a life insurance beneficiary? You’re not alone.

Each year, Americans leave around $42 billion of unclaimed funds lying on the table. In fact, there’s a good chance the government is sitting on some your unclaimed money right now. But you can grab it back. Here’s how.

Unclaimed Property Services

Start off by checking unclaimed.org or missingmoney.com, both of which have the backing of the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators (NAUPA). Each engine plugs your name into state records and spits out possible claims, which you can investigate further. Be sure to check under every state you’ve ever called home -- even if you haven’t been to Ohio since college, you could have some money there.

The Treasury

Those sites scan state treasury departments, but you should also consult the federal treasury department. There’s an official Treasury Hunt site for this, but be warned: It’s way less user-friendly. While you’re at it, check with your local city or town treasuries, too. You can find these sites by simply typing your city or town and “unclaimed funds” (or some similar combination) into a browser search bar.

The IRS

That agency that collects taxes is also a big source of unclaimed funds. As the IRS explains on its website, there are two types of “missing money” in its department. One is undeliverable refunds. These are the tax refund checks that bounced because of an incorrect address. You can get that money back by updating your information on the “Where’s My Refund?” feature or filing a 8822 form. The other type is unclaimed refunds. These pile up because some people have taxes withheld from their paychecks but earn too little to file an income tax return. People eligible for the Earned Income Tax Credit are also likely to have unclaimed refunds. To collect this money, you must file a claim with the IRS within three years.

Failed Banks

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation or FDIC serves as an insurance company for banks. So when banks fail, the FDIC is obligated to pay out any lingering sums to customers. Search their unclaimed funds records here. If your name pops up you’ll have to mail in a notarized form to stake your claim.

Past Employment

Think your old boss might’ve ripped you off? Do a quick search by employer on the U.S. Labor Department website to see if you’re due cash.

It’s also possible to search for unclaimed pensions through the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC). If something turns up, you can submit a form with the group and they’ll help you reclaim the money.

Life Insurance Benefits

MIB scans for unclaimed life insurance policies for a $75 fee. But as MIB itself points out, many insurers now host their own lost policy finders. Here’s a brief smattering of links to the ones from Metlife, New York Life, John Hancock, and more.

Housing Refunds

If you bought a home with a FHA-insured mortgage, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development probably owes you money. Plug your last name or FHA case number into the HUD search bar to double check. If you get a hit, call their toll-free number 1-800-697-6967 for assistance in getting paid.

Written by Kristin Hunt

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