Hey, you’re missing money, here’s how to find it

Several years ago, my sister in law had to visit a local PNC Bank to close an account before they turned the assets over to the local government.

It sounds ominous but it turns out that this happens a lot. People change jobs, they move cities or states, and forget that they had $50 in a bank account they opened back in Louisiana when they attended LSU.

After a couple of years, if you don’t log into the account (you forgot you had), that fifty bucks gets sent to Louisiana’s Unclaimed Property Program. There it will sit for years as it waits for you to find it. Except you don’t because you have no idea it’s there.

It’s not the bank’s fault, they sent you letters but you no longer lived at the address on file!

It might shock you but in one of its biggest years, the Louisiana program returned $35.5 million with an average return of nearly seven hundred bucks. What would you do with seven hundred dollars?

It’s crazy.

I asked my friends to do a quick search and my friend Todd found nearly $2,700. No joke.

todd

A reader, Jo, found $2,400 in her husband’s name! She thinks it’s an old bank account.

Not too shabby!

It’s not just old bank accounts. It’s payroll checks, CDs, stocks, insurance proceeds, utility payments, tax refund checks, … the list goes on and on. There’s a staggering amount of money out there.

Heck, here’s an email I got from Linda where she was owed over $3,000 from Bob’s Discount Furniture!

Absolutely AMAZING!

So how do you do this yourself?

Table of Contents
  1. Use MissingMoney.com
  2. Recovering Your Unclaimed Funds
  3. What to Watch For
  4. Did You Find Money?

Use MissingMoney.com

You can search for your unclaimed funds by doing a quick check on MissingMoney.com. The National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators (NAUPA) vouches for the search engine and so do I.

Matt located $138k!

The NAUPA estimates that state treasuries and other agencies have tens of billions of dollars in unclaimed assets and the easiest way to find it is with MissingMoney. You just need to enter your name and pick a state (I did every state I ever lived in) to do a search. It takes just a few seconds and you could find $50 or $500.

Not every state participates in MissingMoney.com, in some instances you have to go to the state’s unclaimed property division. For a list of those states on MissingMoney.com, check here.

As of August 2021, the following states are NOT in MissingMoney.com and I have linked their unclaimed property pages, you’ll have to go there to do your search:

Recovering Your Unclaimed Funds

Once you’ve identified unclaimed funds, you have to go about claiming it.

The recovery process varies from state to state but it’s usually straightforward. Unfortunately, it can sometimes take a few steps and you have to decide whether the effort is worth it.

In most cases, you will need to prove that you are who you say you are and that it’s your abandoned account or missing check. You will need to fill out some paperwork, find a notary to get it notarized, and then mail it or fax it in.

For a hundred dollars or more, it’s usually worth it. Some states don’t list how much the amount is for, so you have to decide. Personally, I like getting my own money back so I’d do it for $10. 🙂

It’s important to know, this process is not fast. There’s a fair amount of waiting while state agencies do their state agency thing at the state agency pace (slowwwww).

But your cash will get back to you. And there’s just the principle of the thing. It’s your cash!

Go get your cash! (and look up your friends and loved ones too while you’re at it!)

uncleLongHair-missing-money

Some people have found tens of thousands and even millions of dollars (fwiw, it was an estate). I have no idea how they would lose track of something like that but it happens. it’s more likely you will find something like $58, but that’s still real money you didn’t know was yours.

What to Watch For

You will never have to pay anything to anyone (besides a notary) to get your own money back. There are companies that will do these searches for people and offer to recover your funds in return for a fee. These aren’t all scams, but you’re paying them to do something you can do yourself fairly easily.

No state agency will charge you a fee to claim your own funds back!

Did You Find Money?

If you happen to find any cash, big or small, tell me about it — I’d love to share your awesome story. 🙂

I sent this post out to WalletHacks.com email subscribers on August 11th and my friend Jeff told me he found $643 spread out across three years, the oldest of which was 2014!

Here’s one from waaay back in the day:

Brenda found $299.88!
Brenda found $299.88!

If you’re looking for other ways to get money from the government, there are a few more.

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About Jim Wang

Jim Wang is a thirty-something father of four who is a frequent contributor to Forbes and Vanguard's Blog. He has also been fortunate to have appeared in the New York Times, Baltimore Sun, Entrepreneur, and Marketplace Money.

Jim has a B.S. in Computer Science and Economics from Carnegie Mellon University, an M.S. in Information Technology - Software Engineering from Carnegie Mellon University, as well as a Masters in Business Administration from Johns Hopkins University. His approach to personal finance is that of an engineer, breaking down complex subjects into bite-sized easily understood concepts that you can use in your daily life.

One of his favorite tools (here's my treasure chest of tools,, everything I use) is Personal Capital, which enables him to manage his finances in just 15-minutes each month. They also offer financial planning, such as a Retirement Planning Tool that can tell you if you're on track to retire when you want. It's free.

He is also diversifying his investment portfolio by adding a little bit of real estate. But not rental homes, because he doesn't want a second job, it's diversified small investments in a few commercial properties and farms in Illinois, Louisiana, and California through AcreTrader.

Recently, he's invested in a few pieces of art on Masterworks too.

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  1. A. says

    Jim,
    Last year, the Denver Post in Denver ran an article about all the missing money that the State of Colorado had in its Treasury. I really didn’t think I would find anything, but I looked anyway. I found 2 listings which looked like they belonged to me, so I called them. They were mine, $3000.00 plus! Struggled a bit to get the proof of address that was listed 15 years past. Took about 6 weeks, but pretty soon the mailman came with the funds which I had to sign for. Still can’t believe it…

  2. Samuel says

    Hello, Jim. I recently started subscribing to your wallet hacks articles and I read the article entitled ‘Hey, you’re missing money, here’s how to find it’ Just out of curiosity I entered my name in the Public Search records box for truthfinder.com at it did identify me correctly and put a box notice in red saying it has identified over $510,000 dollars in assets in my name. Is truthfinder.com a legitimate website or perhaps it got confused in all it’s record finding.??

    • Jim Wang says

      To be honest, no one loses $510,000 and doesn’t know. Maybe a few hundred, maybe an estate, but that sounds ridiculous. It’d show up on MissingMoney.com if it were real, they don’t miss anything. I know nothing about Truthfinder but I don’t buy it.

  3. DNN says

    I know I don’t have any missing money. It would be nice to know that someone left me a few million bux that I didn’t know about. But hey, at least the thought of millions of dollars is motivating me to go hard in my “side hustle millionaire” journey to [side hustle millionaire] future status. 🙂

  4. Annie says

    $184.41!
    Thought I’d check after reading your newsletter today, but didn’t expect to find anything. Not sure whom from but they had $184.41 for me! Took me 5 min to check the Texas official unclaimed property website (claimittexas.org) and fill in their form and another 5 min to get an email from them saying that they had approved my claim and I should get the money within 10 business days. Not a fortune but very easy money…
    Thanks!

  5. Joe says

    Thanks Jim for this post. I tell people about it all the time. A better website to use, less confusion, is unclaimed.org ….The searcher can easily click on the state. Some states, as you mentioned do not use missingmoney.com. While it does provide a link to go to the state’s Treasury Department website, many people do not read carefully so they give up.

    Also women can look under their maiden name and married name.

    If we found money, we only get back the principal; no interest. It is our interest that politicians use to fund their pet projects. It goes like this; ‘We just found 3 million dollars in the budget that we will use to build …..’

    A person can search for anyone’s name, even if the person is deceased. I found 18 claims for a man who died years ago. I tracked down a family member and sent them a letter to alert them to the cash.

    I believe it is better in a family member’s hands than the politicians earning interest from us.

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