2-Minute Money Manager: How Can I Find Unclaimed Money?

Think there's no way you could possibly have any lost or unclaimed money? That's what I thought too. Find out why you're probably wrong.

2-Minute Money Manager: How Can I Find Unclaimed Money? Photo by Rachata Teyparsit / Shutterstock.com

Welcome to the “2-Minute Money Manager,” a short video feature answering money questions submitted by readers and viewers.

Today’s question is about finding lost money; specifically, investing a few minutes to see if there’s any money out there looking for you.

Watch the following video, and you’ll pick up some valuable info. Or, if you prefer, scroll down to read the full transcript and find out what I said.

You also can learn how to send in a question of your own below.

For more information, check out “How to Find Money You Didn’t Know You Had” and “2 Websites Help You Find Unclaimed Money.” You can also go to the search at the top of this page, put in the words “unclaimed money” and find plenty of information on just about everything relating to this topic.

And if you need anything from a better credit card to a mortgage, be sure and visit our Solutions Center.

Got a question of your own to ask? Scroll down past the transcript.

Don’t want to watch? Here’s what I said in the video

Hello, and welcome to your “2-Minute Money Manager.” I’m your host, Stacy Johnson, and this answer is brought to you by MoneyTalksNews.com, serving up the best in personal finance news and advice since 1991.

Today’s question comes from Chris:

“I’ve heard that nearly everyone in America has money the government is holding for them. How can I get mine?”

Well, Chris, I hope you’re talking about unclaimed money. If so, I’ve got three things for you:

Thing No. 1: Where does unclaimed money come from?

What’s unclaimed money? Typically, it’s money we’ve left behind. It could be an abandoned 401(k), that last paycheck you forgot to pick up, a tax refund you never cashed, a rebate you never got or a utility deposit you never got back. You could even have a relative who left you money; maybe you’re the beneficiary of someone’s life insurance policy. Fact is, money goes missing all the time.

This may sound unlikely, but it’s not. About 20 percent of Americans have unclaimed money from one source or another. It’s typically being held by the state where you live, or states where you’ve lived before. They’re required to hold it indefinitely, so you could find unclaimed money from something you did 20 years ago.

I’ve found unclaimed money twice. It’s a search worth doing.

Thing No. 2: How do you find it?

Doing a search for unclaimed money couldn’t be simpler. Just go to MissingMoney.com. The National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators endorses the site, so it’s totally legit. Input your name and where you live, and in seconds you’ll find out if there’s any unclaimed money looking for you. You can also try another site, Unclaimed.org.

When you visit these sites, be sure to check every state where you’ve ever lived.

Thing No. 3: Beware “recovery” services

The last time I found some lost money, it was because I got a letter in the mail that said, “Stacy, we’ve got some unclaimed money for you. It’s $150. All you have to do is agree to give us 30 percent of it and we’ll collect it for you.”

Since I’d done stories on this topic before, I threw that letter in the trash, went to MissingMoney.com, looked myself up and found out I had a $150 rebate coming from a computer I’d bought at Staples years before.

Thanks to MissingMoney.com, I was soon reunited with my $150.

Bottom line? If you get a letter in the mail saying, “We’ll help you find your unclaimed money, just give us a percentage,” throw it away, go to MissingMoney.com, get it yourself and don’t pay a fee.

Got a question you’d like answered?

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The questions I’m likeliest to answer are those that will interest other readers. In other words, don’t ask for super-specific advice that applies only to you. And if I don’t get to your question, promise not to hate me. I do my best, but I get a lot more questions than I have time to answer.

About me

I founded Money Talks News in 1991. I’m a CPA, and have also earned licenses in stocks, commodities, options principal, mutual funds, life insurance, securities supervisor and real estate.

Got any words of wisdom you can offer on today’s question? Share your knowledge and experiences on our Facebook page. And if you find this information useful, please share it!

Stacy Johnson
Stacy Johnson @moneytalksnews
I'm the founder of Money Talks News and have spent the last 40+ years in the personal finance trenches. I'm a CPA, author of a few books and multiple Emmy recipient. I'm ... More

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