Finding unclaimed money can come as a pleasant surprise, and could mean having some extra cash in your pocket. While the idea of a free unclaimed money search may seem too good to be true, millions of dollars in unclaimed assets and money are held by state and federal governments every year.
Unclaimed funds refer to money that is owed to you, but you never claimed. These funds are often held by government entities until you request them. Once you make a claim and it is approved, those funds are released to you via check or, in some cases, a direct deposit.
Why Do Assets Go Unclaimed?
Assets can go unclaimed for many different reasons. One of the most common reasons is when an organization that owes you money is unable to find you or get in contact with you.
For example, if you’re owed a refund after switching your car insurance, closing a bank account, or overpaying on a debt, but you moved or changed your contact information, that money can go unclaimed. When this happens, the organization must turn the funds over to an appropriate state or federal government until you claim it through an unclaimed money search.
Another common reason for unclaimed property is having unclaimed money from deceased relatives. Oftentimes, an organization is not informed about someone’s passing, or they may not know who is in charge of an estate. In these cases, you may find lost assets and, after providing proof of having control of the estate, claim those lost funds.
The Most Common Types of Unclaimed Property and Funds
While state governments require organizations to attempt to contact the owners of unclaimed money, they’re not always successful. In these cases, the government takes temporary ownership of unclaimed property until you request it be released to you.
The most common types of unclaimed funds and property include the following:
- Utility, housing, and service security deposits
- Remaining balances on bank accounts
- Stocks, bonds, and trusts
- Overpayments on utility or credit card account
- State and federal unclaimed money from tax refunds
- Uncashed paychecks and pensions
- Insurance proceeds, such as auto, disability, life, or other insurance policies
Performing a regular free unclaimed funds search can be a starting point for finding missing funds, even if you don’t think you have any assets being held by state or federal agencies. In these cases, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Moreover, conducting a routine unclaimed property search can help you stay on top of any unclaimed assets you may have in the future.
Is an Unclaimed Money Search Free?
All government-hosted unclaimed property databases are free to use. You will never be charged to search for unclaimed property. However, some types of unclaimed funds can be recognized as taxable income. Additionally, you may want to consider hiring a professional if you are searching for specific assets, but having trouble locating them, such as after a relative has passed. Keep in mind that hiring a service may cost you.
How to Find Unclaimed Money for Free
If you’re wondering, “How do I find my unclaimed assets?” you’ve come to the right place. Because there are many government agencies that can hold assets, it is recommended to check various databases to ensure you do a thorough search.
Here are some government agencies that have unclaimed property databases that you can use to search for unclaimed assets for free.
- Accounts from Failed Banks: The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation
- Bankruptcy Cases Awards: uscourts.gov
- Deposits and Balances of Credit Union Accounts: The National Credit Union Administration
- Employer or Unemployment Insurance-Related Funds: The Department of Labor
- Federal Tax Refunds: The Internal Revenue Service (IRS)
- Funds Owed to Investors: The Securities and Exchange Commission
- Refunds for Mortgage Insurance: The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)
- Unclaimed Retirement Benefits: The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation
- US Securities and Payments: Treasury Hunt
- VA Life Insurance Funds: Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)
Be sure to check any database that may be applicable to you or a deceased loved one to ensure you receive all of the unclaimed funds you’re entitled to. This includes any states you may have lived or worked in.
General Steps to Finding Unclaimed Property
Each state has a general unclaimed asset database that you can use for free. These databases usually operate similarly to the federal databases listed above, and allow you to make claims online. However, each state has a different website and varying rules and regulations for submitting a claim. Check with your state’s database before submitting a claim for more details.
Here are the general steps you often need to follow to use your state’s unclaimed property database:
- Visit your state’s unclaimed asset website: Several states participate in a multi-state free unclaimed funds search. However, many states only display assets within the state. Therefore, if you’ve lived in multiple states, search each of these state websites to generate a more complex list of unclaimed funds.
- Search by name: These databases allow you to search using your name (or your deceased relative’s name) to quickly find property and funds that may be held for you. In many cases, it’s a good idea to narrow down the search by city or zip code, especially if you have a common name.
- Start your claim: If you find any lost assets belonging to you, you’ll need to follow your state agency’s rules, regulations, and process for filing a claim. Ensure you provide as much information as possible to avoid delays in your claim.
- Await payment: After submitting your claim, you often need to wait to receive payment. Most agencies provide unclaimed assets via check in the mail, and these agencies will generally mail the check within 30 to 90 days. However, a handful of agencies may allow you to receive your funds via direct deposit, reducing the amount of time you’ll need to wait.