Did you know that according to the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators, state governments collected $7.763 million in unclaimed property or money in 2015? And only $3.235 million made it back to its rightful owners. That left $4.528 million unclaimed.
That begs the question, is some of that unclaimed money yours? And while the process of getting your hands on your long-forgotten money might seem daunting, it’s actually pretty easy once you know the right places to look.
Here are five top places you can find unclaimed money:
1. Find Unclaimed Money by State
The first place you can look for your unclaimed funds is on the treasury or unclaimed property office website of the state you live in or state(s) you previously lived in. The National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators (NAUPA) offers a link to each state’s unclaimed property website on the NAUPA website where you can search for unclaimed money.
When searching, check under your married and maiden names if you married and took your spouse’s last name.
You may also want to search for funds owed to deceased relatives on the states’ sites.
2. Old Bank Accounts
Old bank accounts can hold a range of unclaimed funds from insurance premiums, dividend payments, and utility account deposits. Those accounts are sometimes listed on states’ unclaimed property websites.
If you opened an account but forgot to close it once you moved to a new area, contact the bank to ask about any unclaimed money.
Even if the bank closed down, you can still get your money back as long as the bank was insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC). You search the FDIC database to find money owed you.
And if you ever had an account with a credit union that went under, you may want to check with the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) for any money you may have left behind.
3. The Internal Revenue Service
If you failed—or didn’t need—to file your tax returns in the past few years, you can still file now. And if you are owed a refund, you can and collect that unclaimed money now too. The IRS may also owe you money if you filed a return and were owed a refund and moved before receiving your refund check or if you didn’t get the check for some other reason.
Note though, that you only have three years to claim a refund from the time of default. Otherwise, the money is claimed by the Federal Treasury.
4. Life Insurance Policies
An insurance company may owe you money from unclaimed insurance benefits left by a relative who passed away. The insurance may have been thru an employer-sponsored life insurance plan. So, contact your relative’s former employers to ask about any relevant insurance policy coverage or contact the relative’s executor who oversaw his/her will.
Unclaimed life insurance money may also be available if an insurance company changed its name or location. In this case, contact the insurance department in the state where the company was located.
5. Savings Bonds
The best thing about the savings bond is that they don’t expire—ever. Apart from the guaranteed financial security that bonds offer, most bonds stop earning interest after more than 30 years.
Therefore, if you had an old savings bond account that no longer earns interests, this may be the time to reclaim your money, or better still reinvest it in a savings account that does earn interest.
You can cash most bonds at a local financial institution. To learn more, visit the U.S. Treasury’s TreasuryDirect.gov site.
Other Places to Find Unclaimed Money
If the top five places to find unclaimed money didn’t pan out for you, you can also try the following places.
If you changed your career or even retired, your previous employer may owe you unclaimed pension benefits. You can claim this money by visiting the Pension Benefits Guarantee Corporation’s (PBGC) search and running your first, last or company name to find out if a former company owes you any pension.
Sometimes paychecks are lost in the mail or sent to the wrong address. When this happens, chances are you have some unpaid wages sitting in the labor department waiting for you to claim them. To find out, simply, visit the Federal Labor website and check by your former employer’s name under the Workers Owed Wages search.
Federal Housing Association (FHA) Mortgage
Refunds from FHA mortgage loan include a partial refund of the mortgage insurance premium you paid, excess earnings from the fund, or even both. If you’ve ever had an FHA mortgage loan, check for unclaimed money from the Federal Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Class Action Lawsuit
In some cases, you may be one of the defendants entitled to a settlement on a case involving a company whose products caused problems to consumers. Even if you didn’t know about the case, you may still be entitled to compensation.
Class action suits can also involve banks or other financial institutions that deceived customers in some way. Or, an employer who discriminated or sexually harassed employees.
Usually, the lawyers pushing the class-action lawsuit are required by law to contact everyone owed a refund. However, it may not be possible for them to contact everyone. So consider looking for lawsuits you could have been a part of, through sites such as ClassAction.org.
Find Unclaimed Money the Right Way—Without Getting Scammed!
The best way to find unclaimed money is by using verified sources, including the sites listed here. Although the process may a bit time-consuming, it’s worthwhile since there are minimal chances of fraud.
Refrain from using third-party sites that promise you faster results in exchange for a fee. Nonetheless, if you choose to use third parties, ensure they’re endorsed by the relevant bodies, such as NAUPA or other organizations, that work with the government.
Make Any Unclaimed Money You Find Work for You
If you do find unclaimed money, consider using it first to pay down debt. Then, consider making it make more money for you by putting it in a high-interest savings account. You didn’t expect this money anyway, so what better way to use it than to deposit it in an account that earns interest.