Last update 06-16-2019
*Where To Look For Unclaimed Cash
*States Stealing Little-Used Accounts
*Unclaimed Life Insurance Benefits
*Did you get your IRS refund check
*Web Sites to Search for Unclaimed $$$

Where To Look For Unclaimed Cash

Kim Komando

Somehow, money gets lost. We leave cash in odd places. Given how hard we work for money, it’s hard to believe how easily we misplace it. I’m talking about back wages, old 401Ks, bank failures, utility deposits, unclaimed life insurance, FHA refunds, undelivered tax refund checks — the list goes on and on, amounting to billions of dollars. In Arizona, more than $1.5 billion sits in unclaimed property, waiting for rightful owners to collect their cash. One of my editors helped her mother find more than $5,000 that belonged to her mother’s parents who died in the 1990s. She found two life insurance policies, retirement benefits and rebates from utilities sitting unclaimed in her grandparents’ names for more than 20 years. The best part: it’s free, and it’s yours. Helping everyday citizens claim lost money is one of the duties of the U.S. Treasury Department. You don’t need to hire a dubious service or spend money to make money. You are entitled to those funds. If anyone asks for payment to help you find unclaimed property, ditch them.

Here are effective ways to track down those dormant dollars.


Finding money is pretty simple, but your search depends on where you live. Each state has an independent treasury website, which has a special search function for unpaid dues. Follow the step-by-step instructions, enter your information and the database will do the rest.

  • As always, use a secure network; this is precisely the kind of data that cybercriminals love to gather and use against you.
  • Make sure the treasury site has a “.gov” address. There are plenty of scammers on the internet, and phony websites are possible.
  • If you have a name that is frequently misspelled, or has variations that are often confused — Schmid, Schmidt, Schmitt — search those misspellings on the unclaimed fund’s site as well.

Online: In Michigan, go to

If you’ve lived, or done business, in many states, I recommend using MissingMoney, which is designed to connect you to the correct treasury departments. MissingMoney is a free government search site. All the site asks for is your name and your resident state(s). Living in several places complicates the process, so you may have to sift through the results; you likely will find other residents with the same name. But MissingMoney aggregates the financial data in one place.


If you think the IRS might owe you money, you can file a claim to the IRS to update them about your new address. Additionally, if an employer withholds funds from you, the IRS gives you up to three years to submit a claim to collect the money you are owed. If you haven’t moved, and you’re just curious where your refund is, the IRS can explain exactly where it is and when you should expect to receive it.


Every retirement plan is different, and things can get complicated if you move from one company to another. As a former employee, it’s your task to see whether past benefits or retirement savings can be transferred or cashed out. Similarly, pension plans and retirement benefits are controlled by different governmental sectors. If you need to search for what money you are entitled to, you can find either online. The National Registry of Unclaimed Retirement Benefits will help you find money being held from prior employers, while the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation can assist in your search for money tied into pension plans.

Online: and


Each website details how to collect your earnings, and you can expect to complete paperwork and to provide proof of your identity. You may even need to have signatures notarized. The time to collect depends on each government agency; it can take a couple of weeks or a couple of months, but it works. Make it an annual practice to search for unclaimed funds. Do it on an anniversary, your birthday, Fourth of July, or some other important day that you’ll remember each year. — Copyright 2019, WestStar Multimedia Entertainment. All rights reserved. For daily tips, free newsletters and more, visit

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States Stealing Little-Used Accounts

By Tamara K. Salmon, Investment Company Institute as published in Bottom Line Personal, January 1, 2017

If you fail to contact the companies that manage your financial accounts every few years, the money in those accounts could be taken from you; by your state. “Unclaimed property” laws require that financial institutions, including mutual funds, banks and insurers, forfeit “forgotten” accounts to state governments. These laws were enacted so that governments could safeguard overlooked assets until their rightful owners stepped forward to reclaim them; but the states soon realized that most of these assets were never reclaimed.

Previously, accounts were unlikely to be deemed unclaimed unless a financial institution could not reach the account holder for at least seven years after mail sent to the account holder was returned as undeliverable. Now these laws can claim accounts that were never forgotten at all. Accounts might be snatched up in as little as three years simply because the account holder has not called the financial institution or logged into a password-protected online account even if mail is not being returned. Contact your state’s Department of the Treasury to learn more about unclaimed property laws where you live.

Account holders can reclaim these assets; IF they realize they have gone missing. But they still lose out on the dividends and capital gains their money did not earn while it was in state coffers. States’ liquidation of their investments can generate taxes and penalties, too.

What to do: Phone every financial institution where you have an account at least once every three years. Take this opportunity to discuss your accounts, or simply tell a representative, “I’m just calling to verify my contact information and get it on record that I have been in contact.” Logging into a password-protected account…and/or completing and returning a proxy ballot at least once every three years should prevent unclaimed property problems, too. Interacting with a financial company’s automated phone system typically will not (count).

Use (other sites at the bottom of this page, or your state’s web page) to search every state in which you have ever lived to see if you have had assets snapped up.

Check Delaware, Maryland and Massachusetts, too. Occasionally assets are sent to the state in which the financial institution is based rather than the one where the account holder lives, and many financial companies are based in these three states.

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Unclaimed Life Insurance Benefits

By Jamie Novogrod, Producer, NBC Nightly News :
Benefits that have not been collected for more than a few years after the death of a policy-holder often get turned over to the state where the policy was bought. This process -- called "escheatment" -- is mandated by state unclaimed property law.
Missing checks unclaimed property records in dozens of states. The website is run by the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators, an organization of state regulators. Here is NAUPA's own website:

1 in 600 may be owed unclaimed life insurance money

Additionally, many states offer websites where people can check unclaimed property records. NAUPA recommends that after making a stop at, Americans check unclaimed property records in every state where a loved one might have taken out a policy.

See the full artical at NBC

Don’t forget to run your business names too. I found a utility refund from my closed company. – Brian

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Did you get your IRS refund check

The IRS has about 112,000 returned refund checks due to incorrect address from 2009 alone. Are you missing a refund from past years? Update your address if you have moved after filing at

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Here is a list of a few web pages to help you find out. Eventually by law all unclaimed money, inactive bank accounts, insurance payouts, and court ordered payments are sent to the sate or federal department treasury to be held for the owner or the owners legal heirs. So if great grandpa left you some money, the state in which he lived may still be holding it for you.
The best place to start you search is in the state you live. Michigan and the Federal government provide the search and recovery for free. You might have to pay for registered letters and notarized copies, but the service is free.

US Treasury, Fiscal Services

Michigan Department of Treasury

For a nation wide search:


The following sites charge a fee for the information:



mib charges $75 to search life insurance records.

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