$42b In Unclaimed Money – Is Some Of It Yours?
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Right now in the United States there is over $42,000,000,000 in unclaimed money. That’s 42 BILLION dollars…with a B. And by unclaimed, I mean – just sitting there waiting for their rightful owners to claim it.
The National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators (NAUPA), which handles the administration of the unclaimed funds, pegs the total value of unclaimed money that states and the Federal Government hold at almost $42b.
A staggering amount, indeed!
So, no need to flash any more dollar signs at you, let’s jump into the how’s and why’s, and most importantly – how you can find out if some of that sweet, sweet money is yours!
Why Does The Government Have $42b In Unclaimed Money?
Well, it goes a little like this.
Every business in all 50 states must hand over any funds, such as payroll, dividends, reimbursement, refunds, .etc that have gone unclaimed by their rightful owners after 1 year of not being able to establish contact. Typically this happens when a check is returned because of an address change, or an unknown address (think life insurance beneficiary!)
After 1 year of unsuccessful good faith efforts to contact the owner of the funds due, the money must then be turned over to the state to hold on to until it can be properly claimed.
The kicker is that the claims process is about as efficient as a DMV on the first Monday of the month!
The great news is that there is no statute of limitations to claim your money, with the exception of IRS refunds which only allows you to make a claim up to 4 years prior. For example, in 2017 the last year of eligible IRS refund claims would be 2013 and later. The IRS states there is more than $1b in IRS refunds for each eligible year!
For everything else you have all of the time in the world. And for those of you that aren’t going to live forever, your heirs are allowed to claim your money on your behalf (so sweet of them!) – you know, assuming they have all of the proper paperwork in place.
In addition to all of the above types of unclaimed money, one of the largest pools of unclaimed cash are life insurance claims, which total over $7,000,000,000!
I assume the rest of the unclaimed funds consists of the coins we drop outside fast food drive-thru windows and the bottle deposits I never remember to get back.
How Do I Claim The Money?
Search By State
Other Official Websites
Claiming The Unclaimed Money
Alright, so let me give you the skinny on how this process works.
- You need to choose your state above.
- Then you search for your last name. Any last name will do. Yours would be best.
- When/if you see your name there will typically be a tiny bit of information, such as your previous address and an amount (less than $50, more than $50, .etc)
- You will then check the box for each claim(s) you would like to make.
- You will register with the site to start the claims process.
When I got to step 3, after searching a state I used to live in (Washington State) I found 4 records! Awesome. Most were under $50, though, so not that awesome. Either way, I was going to register to claim them. Money is money!
However, during the claims process I ran into one glaring problem, and my guess is, you may as well.
See. In order to make a claim for your money you have the dubious task of proving you are who you say you are.
This also means that old address you see? Yep. You better still have proof lying around that you actually lived there!
This was my 1 stumbling block. While I could quite easily prove 2 of the 4 addresses, as they were my last address, the other 2 weren’t so simple. And one of them, oh man, I hadn’t lived there for 16 years!
Do any of you keep bills or lease agreements that are 16 years old? I sure didn’t.
Of course, that was the one claim that’s $50 – $100!
Now, don’t think that stopped me from adding that record to my claim. No sireeeee!
Thankfully, my state had a note option that allowed me to add a little note if I had anything to say, such as “Gimme all your monies!” or “Just kidding!” I opted to use it to explain that it had been 16 years since I lived at that specific address and that if they would kindly match my social security number to the SSN on the account they would see it matched.
Will it work? I’m not sure.
Did I find instant wealth beyond my wildest dreams? Not so much.
However, there’s one more fun little game to play if you’re a vagabond such as myself.
There are other states!
This may or may not apply to you, but for me, I had a list of 4 states to check!
Oregon? (2 claims, woohoo!)
Arizona? Better luck next time!
I went through the exact same process for Oregon that I did for Washington and hit the same roadblock for 1 of the 2 records. Once again, an old address was my nemesis.
I’m hoping that it works out better for all of you. Maybe you’re pack rats that keep every scrap of paper ever sent to you in your life. If this sounds like you, you’ll probably do very well with the claims process.
I however, am crossing fingers.
How To Claim For A Business
Wait, did you think you could only look for people? Businesses have money owed too!
Thankfully the process of searching and filing a claim is nearly identical to claiming as an individual. The difference being that you’ll have to prove your business is legit. Also, there’s that whole “Address thing” that may be an issue.
How Much Money Am I Owed?
After searching all 5 states my total came to roughly $250. I don’t know the exact amount because unfortunately it doesn’t give you exact amounts. It gives you an approximate range.
Approximate ranges and low caps (such as $100) help limit fraud. Since your name and potential addresses are posted for all the world to see it makes it pretty easy for unscrupulous individuals to target you for popular Government Imposter Scams.
I won’t pretend to know everything there is about those type of scams, that’s why I included the link, however I will say this. The less the bad guys know about how much money is owed to me (or you), the better off we all are.
This is why you will rarely see an owed amount that says anything higher than “Over $100“. Yes, the suspense is awful not knowing how much you’re owed. You have no idea if you’re owed $101 or $500,000 or $5,000,000. In fact, I’d imagine some of those life insurance beneficiaries have some pretty tidy amounts! But, it’s all for the best.
Of course, the claims process does leave a little to be desired. You know, with all the hoop jumping and waiting you’ll have to do.
Oh. Yeah. I forgot to mention the wait. My apologies.
The wait to receive your unclaimed money (isn’t it called “claimed money” at that point?) is about 3 months (12 weeks) and that’s if everything checks out and goes smoother than it normally does when you’re at the DMV. My guess is it might take longer if there’s an issue with your documentation, or there is a huge backlog of requests, or if the government threatens a random budget strike…
I’d just plan on waiting. It will be a nice surprise when the check comes to the correct address this time.
If you’re still reading this far and haven’t rushed over to check and see if your name is on the list I will be extremely disappointed! Go do it. Do it now. Then come back and comment!