Where to Look for Lost and Forgotten Money
If you get a call or text regarding unclaimed property that may belong to you, it’s probably from scammers trying to collect information about you and your finances. Many people lose track of old accounts or never receive checks mailed to an old address. However, you don’t need to pay anyone to retrieve unclaimed property that is rightfully yours, and it’s not difficult to search for it yourself — if you know where to look.
The federal government, all 50 states, and the District of Columbia have unclaimed property programs, including online resources or databases intended to help people reunite with their lost money. Could you be one of the millions who might find their names, and a chunk of change, if they take the time to look?
Companies and financial institutions are generally required to turn assets over to the state if they have lost contact with the rightful owner for one year or longer. Unclaimed property might include financial accounts, stocks, uncashed dividend and payroll checks, utility deposits, insurance payments and policies, trust distributions, mineral royalty payments, and the contents of safe-deposit boxes. State-held funds generally can be claimed in perpetuity by original owners and heirs.
Claimed Property by the Numbers (FY 2020)
About one in 10 Americans has unclaimed property held by states.
Source: National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators, 2021
Most states participate in a national database called Missing Money. Searching on MissingMoney.com is free. Make sure to search the specific databases for every state where you (or your close family members) have lived.
Federal agencies also hold on to unclaimed property such as tax refunds, pension funds, funds from failed banks and credit unions, refunds from FHA-insured mortgages, and unredeemed savings bonds. There is no central database for federal agencies, but you can find more specific information about where to look at usa.gov/unclaimed-money.