How to find out if there is unclaimed money in your name

It's always exciting when you find a dollar or two in the dryer or the pocket of a pair of jeans. So imagine how nice it would be to find out you had hundreds or maybe even thousands of dollars in unclaimed money, as many Americans do.

What is unclaimed money?
Unclaimed money is usually in the form of savings or checking accounts that have been inactive for a certain period of time. They can also be old paychecks that have never been cashed, stocks and bonds, or utility deposits that were never claimed.

While laws and time frames vary from state to state, businesses and banks are required after a certain amount of time to hand over any unclaimed monies to the state treasury, which then holds onto it indefinitely or until it is claimed.

Unclaimed money can also be in the form of money from someone who is deceased, who you may now be acting as a guardian for.

How do I find out if I have unclaimed money in my name?
Finding unclaimed money can take place in a variety of ways. The first way to look for unclaimed property is through contacting the state's treasury department and asking them if they are holding any type of property or money in your name. In addition, there are websites that allow you to search for your state and then provide contact information for unclaimed money. You can also call any businesses you may have worked for or been associated with and ask them.

When searching for unclaimed money, it's important to point out there are many scams online and on infomercials. These scams claim that the majority of Americans have some form of unclaimed property and then offer to sell lists or contact information for claiming it. You shouldn't have to pay any amount of money to access records, as this information will be free online or through contacting your state's treasury department or unclaimed property division.

With regards to specific forms of money, the following may be helpful in locating unclaimed money:

FDIC. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation insures bank deposits for retirement accounts, which may be useful in locating any older relatives' money. You can call the toll-free consumer hotline at (877) ASK-FDIC (275-3342) to find out. If the account is more than 10 years old, however, the money will probably be at the state treasurer's office for unclaimed property.
Savings Bonds. After a certain amount of time, savings bonds no longer accrue interest. Go to http://www.treas.gov/ to search bonds in your name. If you find a bond in your name, you can claim it and then cash it in. If it is in the name of a relative who has died, you will have to prove that you are the executor of their will or the beneficiary.
Stock certificates. Stock certificates can result in big money, so if you happen to come across old stock certificates, they are definitely worth looking into. The following government site details how to find out if stock certificates have any value: http://www.sec.gov/answers/oldcer.htm

While any unclaimed money you may have isn't likely to make you wealthy, it's definitely worth looking into. The best way to find unclaimed money is to go through government offices and businesses you have been associated with in the past.


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