Claiming What’s Yours: Locating Unclaimed Money

find free unclaimed moneyAny of us could use some extra cash in the form of a surprise little windfall. Credit counselors at Clearpoint Credit Counseling Solutions recommend taking 15 minutes to search for possible “unclaimed” monies owed to you.  CNNMoney (12/15/09) reports that of those who collected in a recent year, the average claim was $900!  What have you got to lose?

What is abandoned or unclaimed property?

Unclaimed property includes dormant bank accounts, stocks, uncashed dividends or payroll checks, refunds, traveler’s checks, trust distributions, unredeemed money orders, insurance payments or refunds and life insurance policies, annuities, certificates of deposit, customer overpayments, utility security deposits, mineral royalty payments, and contents of safe deposit boxes.

Money could be lost due to bank closures, customers who move and doesn’t inform companies with whom they are doing business,  valuables (which are sold off) or cash from forgotten safety deposit boxes, uncashed checks, unclaimed rebates or refunds, deposits on utilities, old stock and bond certificates, people who were owed tax refunds but who never filed returns, and more.

Companies are required to send funds from lost accounts to the state of the owner’s last known address. That means you could have unclaimed funds in every state that you have resided.  The state government offices are responsible for locating the owners of outstanding property.

Some firms charge

Some companies will contact you and offer to do a search for a fee.  There is no reason you should waste your money.  Doing an Internet search is quick and easy.  If you are lucky enough to locate some funds, just complete and submit a claim form.

Get it before your State does

Your money used to be safe in states’ unclaimed property offices indefinitely.  But, with the economy faltering and many state governments in budgetary trouble, in the past few years, several states such as Washington, Delaware, Alabama, Oregon, South Carolina, Louisiana and Kentucky have changed their laws so, under certain circumstances, it would be legal to seize unclaimed money and not give it back.

How can I search?

Check each state you’ve lived in at www.unclaimed.org.  Also check www.missingmoney.com.  Make sure to check current and maiden names.  If you’ve ever had an FHA loan, check for possible leftover assets at www.hud.gov.  Consider checking not only for yourself but for relatives.

The credit counselors at Clearpoint wish you good luck and happy hunting.