How to find unclaimed money
Few things are as quickly missed as lost money, yet there are billions of dollars in unclaimed funds in the U.S. waiting to be reconnected with their rightful owners. From wayward tax refunds to forgotten retirement accounts, you may find missing money that’s yours if you know where to look. Below are several ways you can search for and reclaim missing funds. Please note that legitimate services for locating lost money are almost always free, so be wary if you are ever asked to pay money to search for or obtain your funds.
Search regional unclaimed funds services
Each of the 50 states, District of Columbia and some other overseas regions maintain websites for connecting current and past residents with their unclaimed funds there. The National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators (NAUPA) website at www.unclaimed.org provides links to the relevant services in each state or region. Be sure to search every area where you and your family have resided, not just your current location. Another website, www.missingmoney.com, allows you to search “all states and provinces” at once.
Look for missing tax refunds
Has your tax refund gone missing? The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) offers a “Where’s My Refund?” page on their website at www.irs.gov/refunds. This service lets you search for a missing income tax refund check by providing simple identifiers such as your social security number and how much you are owed. Additional missing refund information can be found here. Contact your state revenue department to inquire about state tax refunds.
Track down lost retirement accounts
Of all the things you can leave behind at a previous job, your old retirement accounts can be the most valuable.
If your old employer is still in business, you should be able to contact their human resources department for instructions on how to regain access or rollover your retirement accounts with them. If the company has merged or been bought out, you may need to reach out to the new company. If you’re not sure who to contact, try checking with old coworkers or referring to old statements from your account. FreeErisa.com and BrightScope.com are services that allow you to look up a company’s retirement plan administrator based on the company name alone.
What if your old employer has gone out of business? If you had a pension, it may be protected by the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC), a federal agency. Visit their page here to search for a missing pension.
The Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA) is another federal agency that helps connect people with missing retirement funds. Visit their page here to see if you have a missing plan that is in the process of being or has been terminated and learn who you can contact about it.
If your former employer has listed you as a missing plan participant, your plan may show up under the National Registry of Unclaimed Retirement Benefits. Visit www.unclaimedretirementbenefits.com to check if you have and old account listed and learn who to contact.
Replace savings bonds and cash
Lost, stolen or destroyed paper savings bonds can be replaced by visiting the U.S. Treasury page here. While there’s of course no such service for lost cash, damage money that’s still sufficiently recognizable can be redeemed by the Bureau of Engraving and Printing.
Check for mortgage insurance refunds
If you had an FHA-insured mortgage, you may be able to receive a refund from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). To see if you’re eligible, locate your FHA case number and visit the HUD webpage here.
Locate unclaimed veterans’ insurance funds
If you or your beneficiaries are owed insurance funds related to military service, you may be able to find the money through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs webpage at www.insurance.va.gov/UnclaimedFunds. This tool can only locate unclaimed funds for certain insurance policies, however.