How to find and claim missing money in your name

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How to find and claim missing money in your name
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Unclaimed money from bank accounts, insurance policies and safe deposit boxes could be hanging out there in your name without you even realizing it!

In fact, billions of dollars in unclaimed money is just sitting out there waiting for people to claim it.

How does this happen? When money gets lost in space, it gets held by the state until someone comes looking for it. But with many states under budget pressure, they will sometimes just scarf that cash if it sits unclaimed for too long.

So here are some ways to find unclaimed money in your name!

Ways to find unclaimed money in your name

1. Unclaimed funds

Unclaimed money from bank accounts, insurance policies, rental and utility deposits, safe deposit boxes and other places could be hanging out there somewhere in your name. All you need to know is how to check and collect it without paying any fees.

It’s particularly easy if you have a unique last name. Simply go to MissingMoney.com and punch in your name to do a database search of available unclaimed funds across all states. With one click of your mouse, you can cover the entire spectrum of what’s available.

Please note that not every single state participates. If you live in a state that doesn’t participate with this free site, there’s one more option for you: Unclaimed.org. This website is a clearinghouse for the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators.

Also, if you ever had an FHA home loan, HUD may be sitting on refund money for you. Go to HUD.gov and see if you’re in their refund database.

Read more: 28 ways to make extra cash each month

2. Former pension plan

Millions of dollars in pension benefits go unclaimed, usually after companies go out of business or close their plans. When this happens, if the company can’t find you, your pension money goes to the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp., a government agency that protects retirement income. If you think you may have an unclaimed former pension plan, check the PBGC’s unclaimed pensions database to see if you’re on the list of people owed benefits and what to do next.

3. Old bank account

If you left money in an old account at a bank or other financial institution that closed, you could still get your money back.

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. (FDIC) has a list of unclaimed insured deposits at firms that closed between 1989 and 1993. Assets from institutions that have closed after 1993 go directly to state treasuries.

You can also use the FDIC’s BankFind tool to figure out what happened to your old bank and if there’s a new financial institution you can contact about the money. 

Read more: 22 ways to cut costs and save more money

4. Check the IRS

In 2015, the IRS reported that nearly $1 billion in refunds were still waiting to be claimed by people who had not filed 2011 returns. If you’re one of these people, The average unclaimed check is for $698. You have three years to file past returns and claim your refund — so you have until April 15, 2015, to file your 2011 return. And you will not be penalized at all for filing late if you get a refund.

If you did file your return and have yet to receive your expected refund, go to the IRS’s Where’s My Refund? page. You need to enter your Social Security number, your filing status and the amount you were due as shown on your tax return.

5. Savings bonds

Did you hate it when a relative gave you a savings bond when you were a kid? Maybe for a birthday or other special occasion?

Well, if they did and you forgot, then you won’t hate it now.

Billions of dollars in matured savings bonds have never been cashed — and in fact, a lot of people don’t even know they have them. The Treasury Hunt tool can help you find and claim any misplaced series E savings bonds from 1974 or later, as well as other registered Treasury notes and bonds.

Read more: Ways to unlock free money that’s rightfully yours

Read more: How to increase your income without getting a pay raise

Watch: Common Cents: How to reduce your expenses to increase your income

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Alex Thomas Sadler About the author:
Alex Thomas Sadler is the Managing Editor of Clark.com and Clark Howard Digital Products. Alex is also the host of Common Cents, a new Clark.com series that makes money simple, so you can better understand and take control of your own financial life. Alex graduated from the University of Georgia with bachelor's degrees in ...Read more
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