Where Can I Find Lost Money?

Man Buried Treasure
Photo by Nomad_Soul / 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, how to find a retirement account from 17 years ago.

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 “7 Ways to Find Your Unclaimed Money” and “5 Reasons You Should Move an Old 401(k)” You can also go to the search at the top of this page, put in the words “lost money” and find plenty of information on just about everything relating to this topic.

And if you need anything from tips on making extra money to finding the best financial advice, 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 Money Talks News, serving up the best in personal finance news and advice since 1991.

Today’s question comes from Holley:

“Where would I find legit websites about lost employee retirement funds? My dad retired 17 years ago, and never received his retirement money.”

Holley, we’re going to help you find your dad’s missing retirement plan in seconds. In fact, here are a few simple tips to find any money out there looking for you.

Where does unclaimed money come from?

What’s unclaimed money? Typically, it’s money we’ve left behind, like Holley’s father’s retirement account. Such 401(k) assets are left behind all the time. So are last paychecks, tax refunds, rebates you applied for but didn’t get and utility deposits you spaced out when you moved.

You could even have a relative who left you money; maybe you’re the beneficiary of someone’s life insurance policy. Whatever the source, money goes missing all the time, and you should check periodically to see if you can claim some.

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

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.

There are also additional ways to search. For example, if you’re searching for a missing retirement account, step one would be to contact the company where you worked. You can also check a database at The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp.’s website. Just search for “PBGC Unclaimed Pension.” There’s also a website specifically for abandoned retirement plans at the National Registry of Unclaimed Retirement Benefits’ website.

Bottom line? If you’re missing money, you’ll likely find it with a quick web search. Just be aware that not all sites are complete and/or free. Before you bite, ask the internet if it’s legit.

Don’t pay for help

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% 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.

Hope that answers your question, Holley. Now, if you’re watching me on YouTube, click the subscribe button below. If you’re watching me at Money Talks News, sign up formy free, awesome newsletter: Click the “newsletter” button in the nav bar above. I’m Stacy Johnson, and I’ll see you all next time!

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The questions I’m likeliest to answer are those that come from our members. You can learn how to become one here. Also, questions should be of interest to 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 I’ve 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!

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.

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