Missing Money: How I Found $140 In Five Minutes And You Can, Too

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Our financial lives can get complicated, and sometimes things slip through the cracks.

I forgot about an old account when I moved from California to Utah a few years ago. I kept $140 in a checking account at a credit union to maintain membership, since credit unions often have great auto loan rates. The account slipped my mind, and I never notified them that I had moved.

I often run “missing money” searches for my clients, and for fun, I ran one for myself. Lo and behold, I got a hit! I found that old checking account. So I called them to prove my identity, and they sent me a check for a little over $140.

According to the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators, in 2015 $3.2 billion was returned to its rightful owners by unclaimed property administrators.

Could you unknowingly be owed money?

Here’s how to find out in 5 minutes:

Go to MissingMoney.com and search your name and current/past addresses. You don’t need to give identifying information, such as your Social Security number, until you are ready to make a claim. This website covers about 40 states.  

In my case, the MissingMoney.com search covered Utah, but not California. So I had to go to Unclaimed.org and execute another search. If your state is not listed on MissingMoney.com, or you have lived in various states and just want to be thorough, head to Unclaimed.org to search by state.

Don’t stop there. You could have wages due, a forgotten retirement plan, savings bonds that aren’t earning interest, and more.

Some other resources:

  • Unclaimed wages: Search your former employers through the Wage and Hour Division of the Department of Labor.  
  • Retirement plans: Search the Pension Benefit Guarantee Corporation’s database to see if you have an old pension that was never claimed.
  • Savings bonds: Search for bonds that have stopped earning interest because they are so old. EE bonds stop earning interest after 30 years. It just might be time to cash them in!
  • IRS tax refund: If you had low wages and didn’t file a tax return but had funds withheld during the year, you could be due a refund. If you filed a tax return but moved before receiving your return, you could also be due money.
  • Bank failures: Search the FDIC database for any bank accounts from failed institutions.

While I only found $140, there are billions of dollars in unclaimed money in the U.S. It’s certainly worth it to search to see if some is yours.  

My simple check found enough money to buy a used guitar (to rekindle an old hobby). What would you do with your “found money?”  

Use My LIST and MY TRAVELS checklists to decide. 

 

This article was originally posted on my Forbes.com blog on June 18, 2017 under the title, “Missing Money: Find Your Unclaimed Property In Less Than 5 Minutes.”

With the right moves, late starters can catch up

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