Unclaimed money from old forgotten 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.
In this article, we’ll take a look at several of the most popular ways to find missing money in your name — all for free.
Ways to find unclaimed money for free in your name
When money goes unclaimed, the funds get held by the state until someone comes looking for it. But if states are under budget pressure, they will sometimes just scarf that cash if it sits unclaimed for too long. Don’t let that happen.
Here are some ways to find unclaimed money for free in your name:
Table of contents
- Unclaimed funds search
- Former pension plans
- Old 401(k)s
- Old bank accounts
- Internal Revenue Service
- Lost savings bonds
1. Unclaimed funds search
While you’re on the hunt for missing money, there are a few sites that should be “go to” stops on your unclaimed money itinerary. All of these options below are free to search.
A good first stop is MissingMoney.com. Just punch in your name to do a database search of available unclaimed funds across multiple states. It’s particularly easy if you have a unique last name. With one click of your mouse, you can cover the entire spectrum of what’s available.
However, we should note that not every single state participates with MissingMoney.com.
If you live in a state that doesn’t participate with this free site, your next stop should be 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.
2. Former pension plans
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. (PBGC), a government agency that protects retirement income.
If you think you may be due an unclaimed former pension plan, check the PBGC’s unclaimed pensions database. You can see if you’re on the list of people owed benefits and find out what to do next.
3. Old 401(k)s
Part of what PBGC does through its Missing Participants Program is track down employees and connect them with retirement savings they may have forgotten about.
For many years, the PBGC only concerned itself with picking up the pieces and paying out obligations for terminated private pension plans. But a recent change has expanded the PBGC’s scope to include 401(k) plans that have been terminated by failing employers.
Now the PBGC is offering to step in to pay out benefits from terminated 401(k) plans — with interest — when the employees to whom the money is due can finally be tracked down.
4. Old bank accounts
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 down.
You can also use the FDIC’s BankFind tool to figure out what happened to your old bank, or to see if there’s a new financial institution you can contact about the money.
5. Internal Revenue Service
Many people are due a tax refund from a prior year but they never file for one reason or another. If that sounds like you, the IRS gives you a three-year grace period to file and claim the money you overpaid in taxes.
In 2019, the IRS reported that $1.4 billion in refunds were still waiting to be claimed by people who had not filed 2015 returns. If you’re one of these people, the average unclaimed check for you was $879.
You can find current and prior year tax forms on the IRS website if you didn’t file for a year in which you’re owed a refund. There are no penalties for filing late if the government owes you. It’s your money, after all; go and claim it!
6. Lost savings bonds
Did you used to 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 all about it, then you won’t hate them for it now!
Billions of dollars in matured savings bonds have never been cashed in — and in fact, a lot of people don’t even know they have them.
If you have reason to believe you’re entitled to money from lost savings bonds, fill out Fiscal Service Form 1048, Claim for Lost, Stolen, or Destroyed United States Savings Bonds. The form and instructions are available here.
Find missing money is easier to find than you think — if you know where to look. The cool thing about learning how to find unclaimed money for free is that once you do it for yourself, you’ll want to do it for all your friends and family, too!