The next best thing to free money is money that you didn't know you had. Use these free resources to track down any unclaimed money or property that's owed to you.
How to Start Your Unclaimed Money Search
When a business owes you money – and fails to locate you – the law requires them to hand it over to the state, and that's where it remains until you claim it. The result is over $41.7 billion dollars in unclaimed funds from every source imaginable – old paychecks, utility deposits, dormant checking and savings accounts, safety deposit boxes, stocks, bonds, mutual funds, CDs, escrow account, insurance policies and the list goes on.
To see if any unclaimed funds are owed to you, run a search on MissingMoney.com. This free database is maintained by the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators, and most states report their lost assets to it weekly.
If that search doesn't turn up anything for you, head over to unclaimed.org, and do a search under each state that you have lived in.
How to Claim Your Money
Should you find funds that are owed to you, simply submit a claim form to the state holding your funds, and wait for your check to arrive in the mail.
How to Locate Specific Types of Property
Trying to find a specific asset that you've lost track of over the years? Then, check out these free resources:
Savings Bonds, Treasury Notes and Bonds
The U.S. Department of Treasury used to allow you to search for lost bonds online (which was really handy), but they now require you to submit FS Form 1048 to request payment or replacement of the lost, stolen or destroyed bond.
Life Insurance Policies
Insurance companies sometimes change names, merge with other companies, sell off policies or just plain go out of business. If you're not sure which company currently holds your policy, contact the insurance department in the state where the insurance company used to be headquartered or try the state where the policy was purchased. Either state should be able to tell you who is currently managing your policy, as well as how to contact them.
Unclaimed Back Wages
To see if you have any uncashed checks from a past employer, check the Wage and Hour Division database.
Account Balances from Failed Banks
If you had money in a federally-insured bank that failed, use the FDIC unclaimed funds database to locate the balance owed you to. Then, follow the steps on their website to file a claim.
Account Balances from Failed Credit Unions
When a credit union with federal insurance fails, the National Credit Union Association is responsible for paying account holders back, but you only have 18-months to claim your money at the full insured amount. To get what's owed to you, locate your funds in the NCUA database; then, submit a Member Verification Form.
If a company that you used to work for moved, merged with another company, declared bankruptcy or went out of business, check the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) database to see where your pension plan is now. It's searchable by your last name, the company name and by state.
Wondering what happened to your refund? Follow the steps outlined here to locate your check.
If you have/had an FHA mortgage, you may be entitled to a refund. Go here to find out.
Could You Be the Beneficiary of Unclaimed Property?
Lots of bank accounts, life insurance policies and other assets get overlooked when an estate is settled. If you've lost a close family member in recent years, do a search under his or her name to see if you turn up anything that you didn't know about. Be sure to check all states that they lived in, and to check both maiden and married forms of their name.
Don't Get Scammed
You shouldn't have to pay anyone to find or return your unclaimed funds, so don't fall for any calls from people claiming to work for the government. The government will never contact you about any unclaimed funds. Use the resources outlined in this article to locate any unclaimed money that's due to you, without any involvement from a third party, and you shouldn't run into any problems.