Can You Really Find Unclaimed Money?

May 7th 2016
There are plenty of places around where you may have unclaimed money- you just need to know where to look for it. "Good Morning America" did an experimental search on a sidewalk in 2011 and found unclaimed money for one in four individuals they checked for. There are literally billions of dollars out there waiting for someone to lay claim to them. With the odds being one in four and a potentially large sum, you may want to consider searching for your unclaimed funds.
Where Can You Look For Unclaimed Money?
State Websites - Dozens of agencies turn over unclaimed money to the states. Do an Internet search for lost money - and don't forget to search under any other names you might have used. You might find lost life insurance claims, state tax refunds, collected but not disbursed child support, remaining apartment deposits and much more. Funds can be found through consolidated state sites that bring all this information together. The National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators (NAUPA) operates the website, unclaimed.org, which has information on unclaimed funds in all states. 
Failed Bank Accounts and Credit Unions - Remember all those banks that closed after the recession started in 2008? If you had a bank account with leftover cash, claim it through the FDIC. If your money was kept in a credit union, check the NCUA
Unclaimed Pensions - Perhaps you had a pension accumulating somewhere and forgot about it when you left your job. If you are owed a pension from a company that went out of business, it's likely you have hidden funds waiting to be claimed. The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation is a government entity that helps deal with and distribute pension plans that fail. 
Abandoned 401(k)s - A lot of people lose or quit a job and leave 401(k) money on the table. Often, it catches up with them in the mail, but sometimes it doesn't. Search the National Registry for Unclaimed Retirement Benefits (NURB) for more information about retirement plans that may have money that's yours to claim. 
Unclaimed Savings Bonds - Because of the long maturity of savings bonds, which can reach up to 30 or even 40 years, they can often be forgotten and go unclaimed. TreasuryDirect.gov is the go-to place when searching for lost money from savings bonds. The site reports that every year, about 25,000 payments are returned to the Department of Treasury as not deliverable. 
Can You Find Unclaimed Money Through Locator Services?
There are companies that will do the legwork for you. Like anything else, though, you should be aware of what you're getting into before signing on with one. A New York Times article details how some locators use tactics that might not be completely aboveboard. Still, if you think there might be substantial resources out there, a locating service can help streamline the search. 
Misplaced Funds from the Great Depression
People who grew up during or shortly after the Great Depression had entirely different methods of securing money or preparing for retirement. Stocks were usually owned in actual certificates, which of course are easier to lose or misplace. Keeping smaller amounts of money in different locations and stored in different ways means there is more potential for some falling by the wayside. 
Be aware that if you want to claim money from deceased relatives, you will have to prove you have a right to do so. If the funds are in your name, it's a simple process, but if they're not, you'll need to prove your relation to the deceased relative and why the funds are yours to keep. 
There's no reason not to claim funds that you deserve. Roll up your sleeves, do a bit of research, and there's a chance some hidden or lost funds will start rolling in.

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