As of September 2022, states are holding nearly $80 billion in unclaimed funds according to CNET. Due to financial woes, states are quick to disperse unclaimed money from bank accounts, insurance, policies, and other forgotten holdings.
But are people taking advantage? Tax company Sovos claims that states are holding as much as $77 billion, but only about $3 billion of it is claimed every year.
Though this concept may be foreign to you, it isn’t necessarily rare. It’s estimated that one in ten Americans have unclaimed cash. If you’ve never checked to see if you have any unclaimed money, this article will work to help navigate you through the process.
What is Unclaimed Money?
Unclaimed money is money that belongs to you, but the person who initially had it couldn’t contact you. When this occurs, your funds are sent to your respective state’s treasury department.
Unclaimed money can come from a variety of sources such as:
- Abandoned checking and savings accounts
- Company refunds
- Customer overpayments
- Payroll checks
- Investment accounts
- Trust distributions
- Life insurance payments
- Utility security deposits
If the payer is unable to contact you to deliver your money, your funds then enter a dormancy period. Each state has different lengths of dormancy periods based on the type of property. However, once that dormancy period exceeds a specific amount of time, the money then must be turned over to the state treasury department.
How to Find Unclaimed Money
By clicking on this link, you will be able to click on your state and then be transferred to your state’s treasury website. Once you review the site, you will be able to search for your unclaimed money. If you have lived in different states, it will be beneficial for you to click on those states as well. Similarly, if you have previously gone by a different name, you should search for records under those names.
How to Claim Your Cash
Claiming your cash is actually quite simple. If you are able to find unclaimed funds, you should follow the state’s specific filing procedures on this website.
Of course, to avoid fraudulent claims, you must be able to verify your identity by giving your Social Security number and state whether you are claiming this money for yourself or a deceased relative. After you have done this, you will fill out your contact information and the state will verify this information to determine if you are eligible to receive your unclaimed funds. If everything is approved, your money will be mailed directly to you.
How do you know if you’re dealing with a scam?
Unfortunately, unclaimed property scams are not uncommon. People will try to take advantage of this process and attempt to trick you into providing your information by giving false promises of larger sums of money or even property.
How to Avoid Scams and Safely Claim Your Property
- If a message attempts to create a sense of urgency and fear, don’t engage.
- Ensure you’re dealing with a legitimate source by looking out for the .gov or .org domain.
- If someone claiming to be from your state government tries to reach out via text, you should not engage.
Look Out for Third-Party Services
Though unclaimed property locators do not match the criteria of a scammer and can be regulated in states, they will still charge a fee to find your unclaimed property- something you can do for free.
What To Do If You’ve Been Contacted About Unclaimed Money
By law, companies holding unclaimed funds and property must try to find the people the assets belong to by typically sending out notifications via U.S. mail.
However, if unable to locate people (often due to address changes), the money is turned over to the state’s treasury. If you’re not sure you can trust the sender, your best option is to search for unclaimed money through a legitimate website such as MissingMoney.com or the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators (NAUPA) homepage.