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?
I asked my friends to do a quick search and my friend Todd found nearly $2,700. No joke.
A reader, Jo, found $2,400 in her husband’s name! She thinks it’s an old bank account.
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!
So how do you do this yourself?
Table of Contents
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.
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!)
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: