As millions of Americans struggle financially as a result of the coronavirus outbreak, now is an excellent chance to look for any extra income. We are not talking about looking under the couch cushions for loose change or expecting to find $20 in your coat pocket. Looking online can help you find the money you have forgotten about.
Chances are high that you may have unclaimed money that you do not know exists. Unclaimed funds are money and other assets that cannot be traced back to their rightful owner. After a certain amount of time has passed, unclaimed funds normally go back to the government. To claim the funds or assets, the designated owner or beneficiary must file a claim.
Why Does Money Go Unclaimed?
Unclaimed funds and assets occur for a variety of reasons. For instance, a taxpayer may be owed a refund, but the refund check was unclaimed because the taxpayer relocated without updating their address with the tax authority. When a bank closes down, clients who do not know about the closure or do not know who to contact to collect their assets might create a pool of unclaimed funds. Similarly, unclaimed pensions are a prevalent sort of unclaimed funds, especially when a company closes and no information about the administration of their pensions is immediately available.
Unclaimed property is a property that has remained unclaimed after the dormancy period has expired. The dormancy period is the time between when a financial institution reports an unclaimed account or asset as unclaimed and when the government considers that account or item to be abandoned. Most states have a five-year dormancy period. When a property is formally declared as abandoned or unclaimed by the state, it goes through a procedure known as escheatment, in which the state assumes ownership of the property until the true owner files a claim.
Uncashed payroll checks, inactive stocks, court funds, dividends, checking and savings accounts, and estate proceeds are examples of unclaimed property. When property accounts remain unclaimed, they turn to the state for a variety of reasons, including:
- The account holder’s death,
- Failing to register a forwarding address after moving,
- Or just forgetting about an account.
The Most Common Myths and Facts about Unclaimed Money
If you believe these popular myths, it might cost you. Here are some of the unclaimed money myths that prevent people from receiving the money they deserve.
Myth: There Will Never Be Any Unclaimed Money For You
You may believe that leaving your hard-earned money lying around is unlikely. Nevertheless, “unclaimed property” can refer to many different things. It is an old bank account, an overcharge on some bill, or $10 left on a gift card you never used. Maybe grandma set up a savings account for you when you were a kid that you forgot about.
Roughly one out of every ten Americans has unclaimed money waiting for them somewhere. And if there is not any now, you can lose track of some money later as you go about your financial life.
Myth: The Amount I Might Claim Is Probably Nothing
In today’s economy, any money is money that people can use. So even if it is $50, it will be enough to fill the gas tank of your car, for example. Also, you will never find out how much you can get if you never check. Therefore, you should not just surrender to this myth.
Myth: Only Rich People Are Due Unclaimed Money
That is completely incorrect, but we hear it all the time. Rich people are more likely to have professional accountants and lawyers who keep track of their money. The rest of us are on our own. There could be unclaimed money in your name if you have ever banked, rented, or purchased something. There could be money if you have ever put down a utility deposit. If you have ever given a gift card to someone who did not use it, you have increased your chances of finding unclaimed money. The list continues…
Myth: To Search, You Must Have Your Social Security Number And Account Number
Absolutely not! The primary free websites where you will start your search will ask you to search with your name and then verify with your current or previous address. It is a piece of cake. It is so simple that you may search for friends, relatives, and even loved ones who have died and may have left something for the family to claim. The first free site to try is www.unclaimed.org (WARNING: the extension is.ORG, not.COM). The second is www.missingmoney.com, which allows you to search multiple states at the same time.
Myth: You Will Have to Pay to Claim Your Money
Hundreds of “finders” have earned a living by searching for unclaimed money for others. They would contact you to pretend they have found money and will only tell where and how much if you agree to give them a percentage. Do not let them fool you. Sometimes finders can be useful in extremely difficult situations. However, you should not pay for information that you can seek for free in 10 minutes using the sources we mentioned above.
Myth: Claiming Your Money Is a Difficult Task
Most states let you click a link and claim your money immediately if you find it online. Within a few weeks, you will get a check. Consider yourself lucky if the state requires you to go through additional procedures, such as sending notarized documentation by regular mail. That usually implies you are owed a lot of unclaimed money, and they are taking extra efforts to ensure it is yours before releasing it.
Even unclaimed savings bonds are simple to obtain. You enter your social security number into www.treasuryhunt.gov and if you get a hit, a federal worker will call you to guide you through the paperwork. What other federal agency offers such a service?
How to Claim Your Unclaimed Money?
When a company or financial institution cannot locate you, it must turn over the property to the state, a procedure known as escheatment. In order to get your money, here is what you should do:
Start With the Right Website
The process for claiming unclaimed funds varies by state. And, while there is no one-size-fits-all strategy for receiving your money, the first step is to visit the most relevant website. Credit Karma will lead you to the website of the applicable state treasury or state controller, which is where you normally begin the claims procedure to recover your unclaimed funds. Here are some tips to make it easier for you to find your money:
- Check for unclaimed money in the states where you formerly resided.
- You can look for unclaimed money from your business if you are or were a small business owner. The majority of states’ unclaimed money websites allow you to search as a person or as a business.
- If you have ever changed your name, look for records with that name.
- Check to determine if the deceased person has any unclaimed funds if you are an heir. You may be able to inherit the funds if you can prove you are the heir
- Check for money from different sources like your state, your employers, insurance, tax refunds, banking and investments, or international unclaimed money. Following the loss of property, US citizens can seek money owed to them by foreign governments.
Prepare Your Documents
If you have discovered unclaimed money in your name and wish to claim it, you must first prove your identity. The requirements vary by state, but here are some examples of documentation you may need:
- A state-issued identification card (e.g. a driver’s license).
- Proof of Social Security number, such as a photocopy of your Social Security card or an IRS Form W-2.
- A utility statement, for example, can serve as proof of the address associated with the property you are claiming.
- Evidence of your current address.
These documents help verify your full name and address in order to ensure you are the rightful owner of the missing funds. Some states allow copies of paperwork, whilst others only accept originals.
File a Claim
Once you have found the correct website and prepared your paperwork, it is time for the exciting part: filing a claim to reclaim your missing money. The first step is to read the claim instructions on your state’s website attentively. Some states prohibit electronic submissions, while others let you file online if you meet specific conditions.
Residents of California, for example, can file online if the amount is less than $5,000 and they are the rightful owner of the missing funds. If more than one person owns this money, each owner must sign a Claim Affirmation Form before they can get the money.
In case you cannot file online, you should mail a claim form along with supporting paperwork to prove your identification. If you are due more than $1,000 and are unable to file online, you may need to print the claim form and have it notarized. Check with your bank; it may be willing to notarize it for free. Then you should mail the form to the address provided in your state’s claim guidelines.
Wait For Your Check
Now you should wait for your check to arrive after you have found your missing money and submitted your proof, either online or by mail. Unfortunately, the timing varies greatly per state. It can take anywhere from two weeks to more than six months from the date you filed your claim.
In general, keep an eye out for letters, text messages, or emails informing you of unclaimed property. Make sure that it is from the state treasury department, as some states have reported unclaimed money scam schemes, including the use of stolen identities to file false claims.
Sometimes a financial institution holds your money or property but cannot deliver it to you for some reason. This property can come from different sources, such as uncashed employer paychecks, insurance payouts, abandoned brokerage accounts, bank accounts or safe deposit boxes, and uncashed checks.
So many people believe the myths about unclaimed money. It is not true that you will never be due unclaimed property, or that you will have to pay to receive your money. In addition, it is not necessary to provide your social security number or account number to start the hunt. Your name and your address would be enough to work with at the beginning. Also, the process of claiming your money is simple, unlike what many people may think.
If you believe you are eligible for unclaimed funds, make sure to follow the steps that your state provides and submit all necessary evidence. Depending on your claim and the state, it may be completed quickly — or it may take a while longer.
- Unclaimed Money: Myths and Facts – ABC News
- Unclaimed Funds.
- How to Claim Your Unclaimed Money | Credit Karma