States are currently holding $58 billion in unclaimed money and property. Is any of it yours? It’s free to check and it only takes minutes to claim!
I know it sounds too good to be true but it’s actually quite simple. If someone owes you money and they can’t find you, that money ends up in the state’s unclaimed funds database. This could include things like leftover utility deposits after you’ve moved, insurance payouts, or even unused gift card balances!
There are ways to get your money for free. Many scam sites will try to convince you that you need to pay for this service, but you don’t. We have a list of trustworthy, free-to-use links below.
Where does the unclaimed money come from?
Where did the money come from? There are many, many sources, including:
- Refund or rebate checks
- Uncashed pay checks
- Insurance payouts
- Forgotten bank balances
- Utility deposits
- Unused gift certificates
- Proceeds from stock sales
- Retirement benefits from a previous employer
There may even be items, such as jewelry, watches, coins, stamps and other tangible property, from abandoned safe deposit boxes!
Has anyone really received their unclaimed money?
YES! In fact, I have personally received almost $100 from one unclaimed database search. It took only a few minutes to claim and the money was sent to me directly.
The Internet is full of examples of successful refunds.
Consider this story from KSL in Salt Lake City, Utah:
Early one recent Sunday morning, Ogden resident Jon Hanson woke up and turned on the television. He happened to see some information about a state-run program that sought to return unclaimed money to the rightful owners…
Hanson, 55, grabbed his laptop to just see if his name would pop up. “So I went in and within seconds it said, ‘You have over $100, please send this information.'”
After providing the required information in about 10 seconds, he submitted it.
“Here’s what’s amazing: that afternoon I got an email saying that my refund had been approved and would be sent out in the mail,” he recalled. “On Monday, I got another email that said (the check) had been sent out and on Tuesday, I got the check.”
The amount was nearly $500 — not bad for filling out an online query, Hanson said. That good fortune prompted him to perform searches for some relatives as well, which also resulted in recovery of monies for two out-of-state family members — both for more than $100.
In 2013, CNN reported that one Connecticut resident claimed $32.8 million in forgotten funds from the sale of nearly 1.3 million stock shares!
Although payouts that high are certainly rare, there are millions of Americans who are owed billions of dollars. For example, the state of California alone owes $8 billion to just 32.5 million people – that’s almost $250 on average! Nearly 1 in 2 Idahoans have money waiting for them.
What happens if my dead relative has unclaimed money?
So what happens to the unclaimed funds if they’re never collected? Although the funds can be used to fund government projects, the money must be available to the person it belongs to if it is ever claimed. West Virginia’s deputy treasurer for unclaimed property said that “The money belongs to the owner in perpetuity. Even if the owner dies, then their heirs could come back and claim it.”
How can I tell if I have unclaimed money?
Every state maintains its own database for unclaimed money. We’ve included the state links below, and you’ll need to check the database for every state that you’ve ever lived in. Remember, the unclaimed funds are sent to your last known address. If you’ve moved out of state a lot, then you may have funds waiting for you in multiple states!
There is a website called MissingMoney.com that includes the databases for most states. It does not search the databases for Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Oregon, Washington or Wyoming. However, it does search for missing funds in other states. Missing Money is free to use and it’s the only website endorsed by the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators.
New funds are added all the time, so be sure to check back once a year or so to see if there are any new funds you’ve missed.
Just select your states from this list – and don’t forget to check out all the other ways you can get free cash!