Consumer Alerts

Unclaimed Funds, Lost Assets and Missing Money

Government custodians hold over $58 billion dollars in unclaimed funds and lost or forgotten assets remitted by banks, life insurance companies, stockbrokers, courts, employers and public companies in accordance with unclaimed property statutes. Only a small fraction of this money has been reclaimed by owners, heirs and beneficiaries.

By law, financial assets are considered abandoned when contact with the owner is lost – typically due to a name change after marriage or divorce, an unreported address change or the expiration of a postal forwarding order, because of incomplete or illegible records, and most commonly after an untimely death.

When owners or heirs fail to claim forgotten money over a number of years – known as the dormancy period – holders transfer the funds to a trust account in a process known as escheat. Here these lost assets await your claim, along with $17 billion worth of unredeemed U.S. Savings Bonds; and billions more in undelivered IRS tax refunds, uncashed Social Security checks, forgotten pensions and veterans benefits owed by government agencies themselves.

Family members often are unaware they’re eligible to collect unclaimed cash, refunds and benefits owed deceased relatives who passed on without an updated will. A large number of life insurance policies and retirement accounts go unclaimed every year because it’s up to heirs to notify insurance companies and pension plan administrators of death; little effort is made to track down lost heirs and missing beneficiaries. 

● You must initiate a search for unclaimed money – holders of unclaimed funds generally will not contact you.
● There is no national missing money database – don’t be misled by websites offering memberships with recurrent monthly billing.
● State unclaimed property databases online contain only a fraction of lost accounts available for claim. 
● Unclaimed payments and refunds held by courts & government agencies require custom searches. 
● There are time limits on some types of claims, so take action now!

 Missing life insurance policyholders & heirs     One in three life insurance policies go unclaimed on death of the insured, because family members aren’t always aware a policy exists, or don’t know how to track it down.  Unclaimed Life Insurance Policy Search

 Unredeemed US Savings Bonds – $17 billion     The value of lost and unredeemed U.S. Savings Bonds that have stopped earning interest at final maturity currently exceeds $17 billion.  Savings Bond Search

 Are you a lost heir entitled to an unknown inheritance?     Millions of family members are unaware they’re eligible to collect unclaimed money owed deceased relatives who passed away without leaving an up-to-date will.  Missing Inheritance Search

 Savings accounts and CD’s at closed banks     Over 450 banks & credit unions have failed in the last few years including the largest ever, Washington Mutual (WaMu). Depositors may collect FDIC insurance – up to $250,000 per account.  Lost Bank Account Search

 Lost and unclaimed IRA Individual Retirement Accounts     50 million Americans have an IRA. Individual Retirement Accounts worth billions of dollars go unclaimed every year, because owners or heirs fail to take required distributions or cash payout checks.  Unclaimed IRA Search

 Lost and Uncashed Checks     Failure to cash or deposit a check does not terminate your right to the funds and the payor’s responsibility to pay. This is generally true even if a check specifies a ‘void-after’ date.  Uncashed Checks

 Unclaimed 401k retirement plan assets – $850 million     Each year, $850 million in 401(k) retirement plan assets owed employees of companies that have gone bankrupt or ceased operations go unclaimed. Families of deceased workers neglect to claim billions more.  401k Search

 Have you been contacted by an unclaimed asset tracer or heir finder?      Professional asset tracers track down family members and heirs of deceased relatives, demanding 35% or more for information on an unclaimed inheritance. Find and claim these funds yourself.  Asset Tracers & Heir Finders

 Life Insurance Settlement Payments     Heirs of deceased policyholders may be entitled to receive restitution arising from an audit of major life insurance companies – including John Hancock, Prudential and MetLife – that found death benefits were not paid  even though they knew the insured was deceased.  Life Insurance Settlement Search

 $10 billion in lost stock, bonds and mutual funds     The SEC estimates 3 million lost stockholders are entitled to unclaimed stock worth $10 billion. $500 million in stock dividends and bond interest checks are not cashed each year.  Lost Stock Search

  Unclaimed TSP Government Pensions   Thrift Savings Plan accounts worth $88 million owed former government employees and military personnel have not been claimed. Accounts are considered abandoned if, by age 70 1/2, the employee has not made a withdrawal or communication with the Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board. Government Pension Search

 $8 billion in lost and unused gift cards     Last year alone, gift cards worth $8 billion were lost, forgotten or otherwise went unused. In many instances new laws allow for refunds or replacement, even if the card has an expiration date.  Gift Card Refunds

 IRS income tax refunds – $153 million     Last year IRS income tax refund checks worth $153 million – an average of about $1500 per taxpayer – went undelivered, mainly due to unreported changes of address.  IRS Tax Refund Search

 MetLife, Prudential, MONY and John Hancock demutualization compensation     MetLife, Prudential, MONY & John Hancock policyholders and missing heirs are eligible to claim cash and/or stock after the demutualization of these and other life insurance companies.  Mutual Life Insurance Search

 Native American Indian Trust Funds IIM Settlement – $3.4 billion     On 11/30/10 Congress approved a class action lawsuit settlement authorizing $3.4 billion in compensation owed over 500,000 Native American Indians.  Native American Indian Monies Search

 Veterans Aid & Attendance Special Pensions     The Aid & Attendance (A&A) Special Pension provides benefits for veterans and spouses who require help daily chores. Only 1 in 7 of those eligible have applied.  Veterans Pension Benefits

 $750 million in unclaimed child support     States collect billions of dollars annually in court-ordered child support. $750 million has gone undistributed & unclaimed, due to incorrect address information for the custodial parent.  Unclaimed Child Support

 SAG Actor Royalties     The Screen Actors Guild (SAG) is holding money for thousands of performers whose residuals checks – royalties earned from television and film performances – have gone unclaimed.  SAG Royalties

 Lost and Forgotten Safe Deposit Boxes     Each year thousands of bank safe deposit boxes are forgotten or abandoned by owners and heirs. If the box rent is not paid, the contents may be auctioned off by custodians.  Safe Deposit Box Search 

Data Breach Settlements Each year, consumers fail to collect their share of millions of dollars in class action settlements from companies responsible for defective products or data breaches, including Target, Home Depot and Yahoo. Class Action Settlement Search

 Military Retroactive Stop Loss Special Pay (RSLSP) – $315 million unclaimed
The 2009 War Supplemental Appropriations Act authorized special pay of $500 for every month served in stop loss status. 80,000 veterans & beneficiaries are eligible to claim an average of $3,700.  Military Stop Loss Pay

 Writers Guild Unclaimed Copyright Payments – $13 million     The Writers Guild of America is holding in excess of $13 million in unclaimed compensation for thousands of American authors, directors and copyright holders.  Writers Guild Royalty Payments

 Performing artist digital music royalties – $360 million     $360 million in digital music royalties from internet webcasts, satellite radio & cable television play are due recording artists, musicians & copyright owners. $111 million has gone unclaimed.  Musician Royalty Payments

 Workers owed back wages     The Wage and Hour Division of the U.S. Dept. of Labor enforces labor laws. It  collects and holds unpaid wages on behalf of former employees who have moved on without providing a valid forwarding address.   Unpaid Wages Search

 Foreclosure Settlement Payments   4.2 million homeowners with loans serviced by 15 major banks including Citibank, JPMorgan Chase, SunTrust, U.S. Bank, Wells Fargo, Everbank, GMAC Mortgage, Bank of America and others are eligible to receive payments up to $125,000 as part of a recent $3.6 billion government settlement.  Foreclosure Settlement Search

 Holocaust Victims Assets     Holocaust victims and heirs whose property was confiscated or forcibly sold may be entitled to restitution. Search Israel’s Holocaust Victims’ Assets Database or contact the Holocaust Era Asset Restitution Taskforce