Many people don’t realize this but there is a possibility that they may be able to claim some property, which includes money! However, since many people don’t realize that they are even due money. Many people don’t know what unclaimed property is or how to go about claiming it. Luckily, it’s easier than you may think!
What is Unclaimed Money?
You have probably seen commercials or news reports discussing unclaimed funds that Americans may be able to obtain nationwide. Simply put, unclaimed property is a property that has been "abandoned" by businesses or financial organizations. This generally happens when your accounts or properties do not experience any activity in a certain amount of time. We usually call this period of inactivity a “dormancy phase”. If no one claims a property after this time period, the state must take control of it. The transfer of the property to the state is necessary according to the law. Many people have a property that is legally theirs, but they do not know about it. In reality, 1 in 10 people has unclaimed property waiting for them, according to the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators (NAUPA).
The Different Types of Unclaimed Property
Unclaimed property comes in two different types: tangible and intangible. Still, the most common type of unclaimed property is intangible, which includes stocks and uncashed checks. On the other hand, a safe deposit box would be an example of tangible unclaimed property. Unclaimed property comes in a variety of common forms, including:
- Checking accounts
- Certificates of deposit
- Contents of safety deposit boxes
- Savings accounts
- Mineral royalty payments
- Customer overpayments
- Traveler’s checks
- Payments or refunds from insurance and life insurance policies
- Uncashed dividends
- Money orders or gift cards that have not been used (in some states)
- Trust distributions
- Security deposits for utilities
- Uncashed payroll checks
How Could You Find Money to Claim?
Fortunately, finding an unclaimed property is easier than you would expect. There are several ways to find an unclaimed property based on the source because there are lots of types of it. Additionally, there is a thorough search feature you may use as well. Although there is not a federal government website that you can use to look for any money you might claim, there are still other things to consider. You can find a property that is legally yours by searching official state government databases for free. In order to find the appropriate search engine for your state, visit the NAUPA website. It is crucial to remember that every state is different. This means that they will set their own guidelines for claiming the funds.
You can try a few different search methods in addition to using a state search tool while looking for money from:
- Tax Refunds
- Banking and Investments
- International Sources
There are a few methods you might use to approach employers in order to claim the money they owe you. The United States Department of Labor (DOL) may be able to help you if you are looking for those wages that you never received. In case your employer violated labor regulations, they might be able to get back any outstanding salaries. Search the DOL website for employees who have money that they may claim if you believe you may be eligible for back wages.
On the other hand, there is another website you can check out if you believe that you might be up for a pension from previous employers. If a corporation goes out of business or terminates a specific benefit pension plan, the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) can assist individuals in finding pension payments that are legally theirs.
While there are many different insurance-related sources of unclaimed property, two popular insurance sources are VA life insurance and FHA insurance. You can search the database of the United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) for unclaimed property related to VA Life Insurance. It is vital to keep in mind, though, that the database will not contain any money that might be owed from Veterans' Group Life Insurance (VGLI) from 1965 to the present or Servicemembers' Group Life Insurance (SGLI) from that period.
You can also find out that FHA insurance owes you money. The United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), which includes the Federal Housing Administration (FHA), would be the organization responsible for issuing refunds. Through the HUD database, anybody can search for these unclaimed refunds.
You should contact the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) if you believe you are eligible for a tax refund. By visiting their website, you can see what you might be able to claim.
Banking and Investments
There are lots of scenarios where you may find money waiting for you to claim. Money of this kind typically comes from four sources:
- Bank Failures
- Credit Union Failures
- SEC Claims Funds
- Savings Bonds
The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) allows you to see whether you have any money in case of bank failures. On the other hand, the Nation Credit Union Administration (NCUA) lets you look for unclaimed money in cases of failed credit unions.
There may be enforcement cases for Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) unclaimed funds where a business (or individual) owes investors money. The SEC website allows you to check if you are owed anything. Last but not least, people could be due money on savings bonds. You can check to see if there are any matured savings bonds that no longer earn interest by visiting the TreasuryHunt.gov website.
Americans occasionally discover that they can claim funds from foreign governments. If that is the case, they can file their foreign claims on a website. The United States Department of Treasury made this website available so that it makes your mission easier.
In short, if you have any financial accounts or properties lying around that have not been active for one year or more, then the property will be turned over to the state. It becomes unclaimed money once it is turned over to the state. (This is not free money, it is money that nobody claimed).
You will find out that there are other unclaimed property types that you forgot to follow up on. In fact, there are plenty of sources to take into account when looking to see if you have unclaimed money. Try to check with previous employers, insurance, tax refunds, or maybe bank accounts.
Additionally, you should learn from this experience to manage your finances carefully at all times. You can organize your funds as effectively as possible if you maintain a high level of awareness. You should learn from this and make sure to update your contact information, especially your address.