You've probably seen the Internet ads or gotten SPAM e-mails from companies claiming that "you might have hundreds or thousands of dollars in UNCLAIMED FUNDS!" and offering, for a fee, to see if there is money hanging out there with your name on it.
These are, of course, scams. But are there unclaimed funds, abandoned accounts, or other monies to which you are owed? And can you locate these yourself? A friend of mine recently turned me on to this....
Most State websites have an unclaimed funds section - some with a search engine. For example, New York State has this site, which allows you to search online. The Commonwealth of Virginia has a similar site as well. Here is one for Washington State. Almost every State has one.
Go to your State's official website and then use the search feature to search the terms "unclaimed funds" and usually the link to the comptroller's or treasurer's office will come up with the corresponding search engine and instructions.
Do NOT bother to search Google, as most times you will just find SPAM messages for cons that want you to pay up-front to basically do these free searches for you.
In addition to searching online, you can submit a search form and let the agency search for you.
If you find a name match or one that is close, you can submit a request for further information to see if your personal information matches that of the listed claim. Obviously this is safer that listing the name and amount, as people would then try to claim money that is not their own. Usually you have to submit your name, social security number, and old addresses for that Stats.
What sorts of funds might be out there with your name on it? Or perhaps the name of a parent or other decedent who has left you as an heir?
- Dormant bank accounts
- Tax refunds
- Insurance proceeds
- Utility deposits
- Un-cashed checks
- Other forms of "personal property"
A friend of mine was probating their parent's estate and located an $1000 insurance payment this way, that their parents had forgotten about, in their home State. The odds are long that you will collect anything, but there is some money out there, and if you move often, perhaps a tax refund check or dormant bank account balance is sitting around with your name on it. It can't hurt to check.
Speaking of estates, when probating an estate of a loved one, be sure to look out for "hidden" wealth like this. Many credit unions and credit cards offer $2000 to $5000 accidental death policies for their members or cardholders, usually as an inducement to buy more of this otherwise worthless insurance. If you have a loved one who died in a car crash or other type of accident, but sure to investigate this, as these types of benefits could add up to a lot of money. Most people fail to realize that their parents or husband would have such a benefit, as the result of having a bank account or credit card - and oftentimes the decedent may not be aware of it as well. It never hurts to look into this - although most people are so overwhelmed with grief at the time that they really can't think straight.