How much unclaimed money is out there?
State government trustees recently collected $22.8 billion in forgotten or abandoned funds in just a single year, of which less than $1 billion was reclaimed by owners or heirs. Federal agencies are holding substantially more:
U.S. Postal Service - $26.6 million (uncashed postal money orders)
Bureau of Public Debt - $17 billion (matured but unredeemed savings bonds)
Social Security Administration - $478 million (unclaimed benefit checks)
Internal Revenue Service - $340 million (undelivered & uncashed tax refunds)
Bureau of Indian Affairs - $3.4 billion (unclaimed trust fund payments & lawsuit settlement funds)
FDIC & NCUA - $200 million (unclaimed bank deposits and credit union accounts)
Pension Benefit Guarantee Corp. - $59 million (unpaid retirement benefits)
HUD - $70 million (Mortgage Insurance Premium refunds/Distributive Shares)
Federal Bankruptcy Courts - $200 million (unpaid distributions to creditors)
Securities & Exchange Commission - 3 million lost stock brokerage account owners
How come I didn’t know?
Have you ever forgotten about an old bank account, unredeemed savings bond or misplaced gift certificate? Have you ever failed to cash a check or claim a security deposit? Are you entitled to an unclaimed employee benefit, retirement funds or company stock?
Were records misplaced after a move, or lost due to theft, fire or flood? Maybe you never even knew you were named an heir or beneficiary in a relative or friend’s will or life insurance policy!
If you’ve moved, changed your name after marriage or divorce, or switched jobs over the years, it can be difficult to find you. And often being declared “missing” results simply from computer or clerical errors, or the expiration of a post office forwarding order. Think it couldn’t possibly be you? Think again!
How do I claim my share?
While holders of unclaimed funds may make a good-faith effort to track down claimants, it’s a near-impossible task due to the sheer number of accounts involved. It is imperative, therefore, that you initiate a search.
To search for unclaimed property held by states, and to obtain information on pre-escheat assets and assets held by federal agencies owed you or a deceased family member, complete the form below.
What’s the bottom line?
Refund checks typically average $800-$1000, but many are for substantially more.
There is no “national database” of unclaimed funds, despite what you may have heard.
Legal notices in newspapers contain only a small fraction of accounts actually available for claim.
Assets may be held just about anywhere, regardless of where you now live.
Assets owed by the federal government (savings bonds, IRS refunds, Social Security and VA benefits, etc.) are not included in state databases.
Foreign nationals may need to follow special procedures to locate and claim lost assets.
Certain types of assets are excluded from public databases, and won’t show up on missing owner lists.
Government agencies holding funds have a strong incentive not to contact owners or heirs … cash not claimed is transferred to the general fund and may be spent.
There are time limits on some types of claims, so you need to act promptly.