Did you know that there might be money you can claim but you have no idea about? This is the case if your name appears in an unclaimed property database. Each year, state agencies receive reports of billions of dollars from unclaimed refunds, uncashed checks, forgotten security deposits, and even old bank accounts. First, you need to know what unclaimed property is and how to claim it. This is exactly what we will show you in this article.
What is Unclaimed Money?
It is likely that you have seen ads or news reports discussing unclaimed funds that Americans may be able to obtain nationwide. “Abandoned” property from businesses or financial institutions is referred to as unclaimed property. In other words, the accounts or properties that are considered abandoned or unclaimed haven’t seen any activity in a certain amount of time. A “dormancy period” is the name for this period of inactivity. Consequently, the property must return back to the state if nobody claimed it after this period of time.
In fact, turning over the property to the state is a legal requirement. Many people have property that is rightfully theirs but they do not know about it. The National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators (NAUPA) estimates that 1 in 10 people have a property waiting for them.
Understanding the Different Types of Unclaimed Property
Tangible and intangible are the two main types of unclaimed property. Unclaimed property that is intangible, such as uncashed checks or stocks, is the most common type. A safe deposit box is an example of the other type: the tangible unclaimed property. There are a variety of different types of properties that people may be able to claim, including:
- Checking or savings accounts
- Uncashed dividends or payroll checks
- Traveler’s checks
- Trust distributions
- Certificates of deposit
- Customer overpayments
- Utility security deposits
- Mineral royalty payments
- Contents of safe deposit boxes
- Payments or refunds from insurance policies
- In some states, unused money orders or gift certificates
How to Look For Unclaimed Money?
Finding your unclaimed money is like a walk in the park. There are various methods to track down your unclaimed property depending on the source because there are multiple forms of it. In addition, there is a useful search feature you can use as well. There are some options to consider even though there is not a national government website that helps you look for any unclaimed money you might have. You can find the unclaimed property that is legally yours by searching official state government databases for free. You can use the NAUPA website to find the appropriate search engine for your state. It is critical to remember that each state differs from the others.
You can try a few other ways of searching in addition to using a state search tool when looking for money from your employers, insurance, tax refunds, international sources, or banking and investments.
There are a couple of approaches you can take to get unclaimed money from employers. The United States Department of Labor (DOL) may be able to offer assistance if you are trying to find unpaid wages. They may be able to reclaim any back wages that your employer owes you if your employer violated labor laws. Search the DOL website for employees who have money that needs to be claimed if you believe you may be due back wages.
However, there is another website you can visit if you believe you are owed a pension from previous employers. If a company went out of business or terminated a defined benefit pension plan, the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) can assist individuals in finding pension payments that are legally theirs.
Although there are lots of sources of unclaimed property that are related to insurance, two popular sources are VA life insurance and FHA insurance. You can search the database of the United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) for unclaimed property related to VA Life Insurance. It’s important to keep in mind, though, that the database will not contain any money that might be owed from Veterans’ Group Life Insurance (VGLI) from 1965 to the present or Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance (SGLI) from that same time.
A refund from FHA insurance might also be owed to you. The United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), of which the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) is a part, would be in charge of issuing refunds. Through the HUD database, people can look for these unclaimed refunds.
You should contact the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) if you believe you are eligible for a tax refund. By visiting their website, you can see what you might be owed.
Unclaimed money from foreign governments can sometimes end up in the hands of American citizens. If that is the case, there is a website where they can file their foreign claims. The United States Department of Treasury is responsible for this website.
Banking and Investments
There is more than one situation where you may be owed unclaimed money. This type of unclaimed money usually comes from four sources:
- Bank Failures
- Credit Union Failures
- SEC Claims Funds
- Savings Bonds
Thanks to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), you will be able to determine whether you have any money in case of bank failure. However, the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) will let you look for your money in cases of failed credit unions.
If a business (or individual) owes investors money, there may be enforcement cases for Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) unclaimed funds. The SEC website allows you to check if you are due anything. Last but not least, people might owe money on savings bonds. So, feel free to check to see if there are any savings bonds that have reached maturity and no longer earn interest by visiting the TreasuryHunt.gov website.
In summary, any financial accounts or properties that have been inactive for a year or more will go back to your state. You still own them, so do not worry. They are simply waiting for you to claim them. Once your money returns to the state, it is regarded as unclaimed. In other words, it’s your money that has been sitting around for a while rather than some free money from the government. There are a variety of sources to take into account when looking to see if you have money to claim.
It is so important to always keep an eye on your finances. Keeping track of everything will help you organize your finances as best you can. This should also remind you to keep your contact information, particularly your address, up to date. Good luck!