Is it really possible to locate money or property from dormant or forgotten bank accounts? What about pensions or wages from past employers or unclaimed life insurance funds?
Network television programs have featured segments on the topic of unclaimed funds. Using phrases like “the government might owe you money,” they try to attract the attention of incredulous Americans. But the truth is that the government does indeed have unclaimed property programs that actively find owners of lost and forgotten assets.
Banks, insurance companies, corporations, and the courts are among the many organizations required by law to report dormant accounts to the State Comptroller. These organizations must attempt to notify you by mail and publish the information in newspapers. Despite these efforts, many funds remain unclaimed and are turned over to the Office of the State Comptroller. In turn, the Office of the State Comptroller actively tries to connect owners with lost or forgotten assets.
There might be unclaimed funds or property waiting for you from savings or checking accounts, wages and pensions, tax refunds, commercial and life insurance policies, and a lot more. Companies may offer to find this money for a fee. And scammers may try to trick you with fake promises of money from the government. But you can find your unclaimed money yourself for free. Check a USAGov list of official sources to get started:
- Search for unclaimed money and property in every state where you have lived. You can check state-by-state for individual programs or contact your state’s unclaimed property office for help. And keep an eye out at state fairs and even malls, where state treasurers and other officials hold public awareness events.
- Check for unclaimed funds from bank failures, insurance failures, or unclaimed deposits from credit union closures. Did you have money in a checking or savings account at a Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC)-insured financial institution? If the financial institution closed, you can search the FDIC database. For unclaimed deposits from credit union failures, search the listings at the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA).
- Look for unclaimed or undelivered tax refunds or a refund from an FHA-insured mortgage. The IRS may owe you money if you earned income in the past few years but did not file a tax return because your wages were below the filing requirement. To claim your refund, follow this guidance from the IRS. For undelivered tax refunds, use the Where’s My Refund tool to check your status. Did you purchase mortgage insurance from the Federal Housing Administration (FHA)? You may be eligible for a refund. Find out by searching the HUD database. You will need your FHA case number (three digits, a dash, and the next six digits—for example, 051-456789).
- Search for unclaimed back wages, pension money, or life insurance funds. Are you owed unpaid wages from your current or a past employer? Check the Labor Department’s Wage and Hour Division’s records to see if you have money waiting to be claimed. You also may be owed a pension if a company you worked for went out of business or ended a defined plan. For your unclaimed pension search, you’ll need either the participant’s or beneficiary’s last name, the name of the company that provided the pension, or the state of the company’s location. And you can check with the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) for unclaimed life insurance funds if you’re a current or former VA life insurance policyholder or a beneficiary. This search is not for Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance (SGLI) or Veterans’ Group Life Insurance (VGLI) policyholders.
Along the way, watch out for unclaimed money scams, when someone pretends to be from the government and offers to send you unclaimed money for a fee. Learn how to recognize these imposters and find out where to report them. Check out this infographic to help guide you when looking for unclaimed money. Explore more helpful money and shopping information and resources on USA.gov, your online guide to government information and services.
About the Author: Christopher Roche is the President and CEO of CMR & Associates. Christopher founded CMR to provide independent insurance advice by reviewing your current insurance coverage to improve coverage and reduce cost. Through CMR’s proprietary database – The CMR Database® (comprised of some 13000 brokers nationwide) – access to the commercial insurance industry is maximized for greater options that will translate to better coverage and lower cost. Since 1999, CMR has saved clients over $120 million.