Unclaimed money is the name given to funds held by a financial institution or the government that are not being claimed. These funds can include a variety of items such as bank accounts, forgotten employee wages, security deposits, tax refunds and more. Money may become unclaimed if the owner loses track of it or if the funds are not claimed after a certain period of time. In order to make sure individuals take steps to claim any unclaimed money that might be theirs, there is a whole industry dedicated to helping them find it.
What is Unclaimed Money
There are two types of unclaimed money; dormant and abandoned. Dormant money is money that has not been touched for a certain amount of time, usually at least a few years. This could include forgotten bank accounts, dividend payments, uncashed checks and more. Dormant money is generally considered any money that is not actively being used.
Abandoned money is money that was left by the owner and has been neglected for so long that it is risky for the financial institution to assume it belongs to them. This can include real estate tax refunds, utility deposits, security deposits, uncashed government checks and more.
Unclaimed Property Laws
Each state and the federal government have their own laws surrounding unclaimed money. These laws are designed to make sure the rightful owner of the property receives the funds. Under federal law, unclaimed funds are broken into two categories: personal property and security property. Security property is any property held in a brokerage or bank account and is regulated under the Securities Investor Protection Act of 1970. Personal property is any other form of unclaimed money, such as lost wages, forgotten rent payments, uncashed checks and more.
In the United States, these laws require financial institutions, estates, public agencies and other legal entities to report and deliver unclaimed money to the appropriate government agency, known as the unclaimed property or abandoned property office. This helps ensure that the owner is aware of the funds and can take steps to reclaim it.
How to Find Your Unclaimed Money
The best place to start looking for any unclaimed money is the unclaimed property office for the state in which you reside. Most states have an office dedicated to unclaimed property, and these offices can search for any funds in the state’s database. To find unclaimed money, a typical search would include entering the full name of the individual, their city and state of residence, and their former address if they lived in that state. If the individual has a social security number, that can also be helpful in the search.
If nothing is found in the state’s unclaimed property database, the next place to check would be the federal government’s unclaimed funds database. The US Department of the Treasury provides an online search for unclaimed funds and offers advice on how to complete an effective search.
How to Claim Unclaimed Money
If unclaimed money is found, the state or federal government will need to verify the identity of the rightful owner and will also require certain documents proving ownership of the funds. These documents can vary, but can include a recent tax return and identification documents such as a driver’s license.
Once ownership has been established and the appropriate documentation has been provided, the owner of the unclaimed money may need to set up a time to come into the office and present the documents in person. This will give the office an opportunity to verify the documents and confirm the identity of the claimant. Once the documents have been verified and ownership confirmed, the owner of the unclaimed money can typically pick up their money, at which time a small fee will be required for processing. In some cases, the individual can request that the money be deposited directly into their bank account or mailed to them.
Protecting Yourself from Unclaimed Money Scams
In recent years, there has been a rise in scams related to unclaimed money. While there are many legitimate organizations that specialize in helping individuals locate and reclaim their unclaimed money, there are some con artists the try to take advantage of those searching for their lost funds. It’s important to be vigilant when searching for unclaimed money and to make sure the entity you are dealing with has been properly authorized and is licensed by the proper authorities.
It’s also important to be aware of common unclaimed money scams, such as companies that ask for an upfront fee to locate unclaimed money. In some cases, these companies will require the individual to pay a fee before any funds can be released, which is illegal. The safest thing to do if you believe you might have unclaimed money is to search directly through the state or federal government websites.
Unclaimed money is a type of forgotten funds held by a financial institution or government that can be claimed by the rightful owners. While it is possible to track down unclaimed money on your own, it is also important to be aware of scams that could be targeting those searching for their lost funds. It is best to stick to reputable companies and websites that can help you search for unclaimed money without risking any financial gain on your part.