Being told that you may have mounds of unclaimed money probably sounds like something straight out of a poorly-written spam email. It may be your reality, though, if you look in the right places. Keep reading to find out where you should concentrate your search efforts.
How Much Unclaimed Money Is out There?
You would think that most people keep tabs on every single cent they are owed, but that’s obviously not the case when you look at how much unclaimed money currently exists.
According to Consumer Reports, forgotten or misplaced life insurance policies alone account for at least $1 billion in unclaimed benefits. Some unclaimed life insurance benefits reached the $300,000 mark, with the average being worth $2,000 apiece.
The next time you think of playing the lottery, remember these odds: You have a better chance of having unclaimed benefits in your name since the odds sit at 1 in 600. In other words, you don’t need tons of luck to have money waiting for you to claim it.
Life insurance policies aren’t the only form of lost money that could boost your bottom line. Here are others:
- Dividend checks that were uncashed.
- Paychecks that were uncashed.
- Security deposits for utilities.
- Retirement accounts that were forgotten.
- Mortgage insurance refunds that were unclaimed.
- Trust distributions that were unclaimed.
- Safe-deposit box contents (while the contents are usually auctioned off, the money is kept).
- Bank accounts (inactive ones get turned over to the state, but account holders or heirs can claim the funds).
Combine the value of all those forms of lost money, and you’re looking at $41 billion.
Where can you see if you’re owed any of the above? You could contract a company to do the work for you, but thanks to the Internet, you can start your detective work right now.
Where to Find Lost Money You May Be Owed
States usually handle unclaimed property. If you have ties to different states, you may have to perform several searches. To be as thorough as possible, search every state where you have previously resided. A solid place to start is the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators (NAUPA) website.
Click your state on the map, and you’ll be redirected to its official unclaimed funds site. Most of these searches are self-explanatory, and they may even provide a small rush of euphoria as you wait for your results.
You can also perform a multi-state search at no cost by visiting the MissingMoney site. It’s a search engine sponsored by NAUPA that has been around for years.
If you find you are not owed anything, don’t lose all hope. Many states update their records regularly. Keep trying now and then to see if something changes. The reward you could receive in exchange for a few minutes of work is well worth it.
Should you only search using your name? Of course not. You can search for relatives’ names as well, or even your friends.
Beware of Unclaimed Money Scams
Avoid people or sites who try to coerce you into paying them upfront fees to get your hands on lost money. Some legitimate companies may contact you, offering to find your unclaimed property for a percentage. While they may be legit, you can do the legwork yourself without paying a single penny.