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Find your unclaimed money

Take 5 minutes to do a quick online check for funds you might have lost track of.

By Stacy Johnson Dec 27, 2011 9:39AM

This post comes from Brandon Ballenger at partner site Money Talks News.

Money Talks News on MSN MoneyThe federal government wants to return more than $150 million to us, but can't figure out where we live.

The IRS said at the end of November that nearly 100,000 Americans had unclaimed tax refunds, with an average check of $1,547 waiting. But if you're thinking you'd never leave money like that on the table, think again. According to the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators, state agencies are holding more than $32 billion in unclaimed funds.

In the video below, Stacy Johnson takes a look at the types of claims you can file and where to make them. Check it out, then read on for links to get started.

As Stacy said, about one in eight people have unclaimed property waiting. So even if you don't, someone you know probably does. Checking is free and takes only a few minutes, so there's nothing to lose. Here's how you look:

Start with the state you live in. Every state has an agency that maintains records on unclaimed property, including money in old bank accounts, life insurance policies, contents of safe deposit boxes, certificates of deposit, and uncashed checks. You can find a link to those agencies through the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators. After you check your current state, try all the states you or your immediately family have ever lived in. lets you search several states at once, but not all. Some states don't participate, so you'll have to check them individually.

Check with national agencies. There are other sources to check with, most of which focus on a single type -- like pensions. has links for getting unclaimed money from several different sources. Among them:

Trace old stocks. Old stock and bond certificates can still mean money if the company merged with another or changed its name. However, unlike claiming other kinds of money, this isn't free. The SEC has a list of resources for researching old stock certificates, but they all charge a fee to do it. If you don't think it's worth the fee or you find out the stocks are worthless, you still might be able to sell them as collectibles.

Double-check and keep track. If you ever receive offers by email that want to charge a fee to find lost cash, don't bite. Simply contact your unclaimed property state agency and see what you have coming. You should never have to pay money to get money.
Then make sure you never lose money again: Cash all checks you get without delay, always update your mailing address ASAP, and create a will and inventory your financial assets so your loved ones know where they are when you're gone.

More on Money Talks News and MSN Money:

Dec 28, 2011 3:38AM

@kahm: You can go to the National Association of Unclaimed Retirement Benefits for a quick look. I had the link in here but this stupid program won't allow me to provide the information you need. This is for active plans with inactive participants. Chances are that the plan might have been terminated. In that case, if they can't find you, they can roll it over to a traditional IRA, open a savings account in your name (you get tax penalties if you don't qualify to take money out) or they may turn it over eventually to the state of your last known address. If they didn't have your address, the money would be turned over to the state in which the bank was incorporated. Go to unclaimed (dot) org to check the unclaimed property site in any state you've lived in. (NOTE: This is .org, that will charge you!)

You can find additional information about terminated 401K plans by going to The Department of Labor, Employee Benefits Security Administration (again, it won't let me give you the link so you can find the information you need easily.)

You can research bank "genealogy" buy going to the National Information Center: ffiec (dot) gov.

I hope this was helpful. Look for me on America's Money Class with Suze Orman, her new show on OWN, that premiers on January 9. I'll be on January 30. It's a 6-part series. Watch all 6 episodes. Take the final exam within 24 hours after the last class and pass with at least 80% and YOU could win up to $50,000!!


Dec 27, 2011 9:02PM
I worked for a bank in Texas in 1983-1985. When I left I had money invested into my 401k that was never cashed out or rolled over. The bank is no longer in business or was taken over by another bank. How can I locate that money? No one seems to be able to let me know what happened to it.
Oct 10, 2013 3:42PM
go to to take a look
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