A free unclaimed money search could mean cash in your pocket. Unclaimed assets are funds, property, and other valuables the government holds on your behalf. While finding unclaimed money might sound too good to be true, the assets may be your rightful property.
The government keeps unclaimed funds until the owner, heir, or other qualified claimant requests it. Organizations must turn over money and property when they cannot find the owner. The federal and state governments let you do a free unclaimed funds search to see if you have a right to anything they have.
Unclaimed Assets: Like Finding Money in Your Pocket
Escheatment is when the government takes possession of unclaimed assets after a period of time, which is set by each state. Banks, insurance companies, and other financial entities must transfer unclaimed property to the government if they cannot reach the owner. This regulation prevents companies from claiming millions in unclaimed cash for themselves.
For example, account maintenance costs banks money, so they often close inactive – or dormant – accounts. The financial institute must try to notify the account holder of the closing. If the bank cannot reach the owner, it must give the government the balance.
Below are the most common types of unclaimed assets:
- Annuities, dividends, and trust distributions
- Credits and overpayments, including utility accounts and store credit cards.
- Federal and state tax refunds
- Inactive bank checking and savings accounts
- Insurance proceeds from life, disability, auto, and other policies
- Intangible assets like stocks and bonds
- Pensions and uncashed paychecks
- Remaining balances on financial accounts
- Security deposits such as housing and utility accounts
The state requires organizations to do their due diligence to contact the owner. But financial institutions may not be able to get ahold of them if the owner changes addresses or phone numbers.
Although the government takes ownership of the unclaimed funds, the owner can still claim the assets. You can check the government list of unclaimed money in most cases just by entering your name, but you might need more for your claim.
Learn About the Quick Claim Process of Unclaimed Assets
Every state has an unclaimed property database that is free to use. Checking for unclaimed money can be as easy as typing your name and clicking “search.” And most states let you make a claim directly online.
When it comes to an unclaimed assets search, each state has different rules and regulations for claims. Here are the general steps for the unclaimed assets process:
- Go to your state or the appropriate government website. Some states participate in multi-state unclaimed property search, but you may need to complete the process for each state where you lived.
- Search by name (and area). You must enter your name, and adding a location – like a city – can filter the results.
- Complete the claim. The government may need a copy of your identification and other documents proving the assets belong to you. Large sums may require notary services or additional steps.
- Await your claim payment. Most agencies mail a check within 30 to 90 days.
Some government databases may require your Social Security number or other information. For example, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) may need the tax refund amount to the dollar, your filing status, and personal financial information to verify your identity.
How to Find Your Unclaimed Assets
So, you want to check if you have unclaimed money from deceased relatives or a forgotten account but need to know where to look. You can search your state’s database for most local accounts, like banks, credit cards, and utilities. But you may need to check another government list of unclaimed money from insurance proceeds, retirement benefits, and court cases.
The National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators keeps a list of the state databases, but no federal system checks for all assets nationwide. Separate agencies have searchable databases for specific types of funds.
Here are some government agencies with unclaimed asset databases:
- Accounts from failed banks – The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation
- Awards from bankruptcy cases – US Courts
- Credit union account balances and deposits – The National Credit Union Administration
- Employer-related funds, like payroll – The Department of Labor
- Federal tax refunds – The Internal Revenue Service
- Money owed to investors – The Securities and Exchange Commission
- Mortgage insurance refunds – Housing and Urban Development (HUD)
- Retirement benefits – The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation
- US securities and payments – Treasury Hunt
- VA life insurance – Veterans Affairs
For instance, the IRS has millions in unclaimed tax refunds. Some of the IRS unclaimed money is from missed tax credits that non-filers did not receive. So, you could have a tax refund without filing your federal taxes. You won’t find your federal funds on state sites.
The government may have a free unclaimed money search by Social Security number, but you should hesitate to share your Social Security number with a non-government website. Scammers pose as finder firms, and they could steal your claim, money, and identity.
Benefits of Unclaimed Assets
Finding unclaimed money can be a treat, whether it’s a $20 bill in an old coat pocket or $200 from an old utility deposit. A free unclaimed money search can help you get your assets, and not just those you know about.
Some unclaimed funds may be less or more than they were originally, such as:
- A bank automatically deducting monthly service fees.
- Stock investments’ value increasing with the market.
- A rental deposit accruing interest.
Some assets give you more options than others. For instance, you could transfer recently found retirement funds from old 401(k)s and IRAs to your current account or withdrawal for other expenses. However, you may receive an early withdrawal fee. Likewise, you may have the option to sell newly claimed stocks for cash or keep them (and keep track of them).
On the other hand, an asset may end up costing you money. You may owe property taxes on land you forgot about or inherited. Or, assets could strictly have sentimental value, such as family photos in a safe deposit box.
All government unclaimed asset databases are free. You do not need to hire a finding firm or pay a fee to make a claim. However, you may consider hiring a professional if you are searching for assets, such as after the unexpected death of a benefactor.