Is your state holding unclaimed money that never made it to your mailbox? Here’s how to find out.

2 minute read

About a month ago, I searched my state treasurer’s office for “unclaimed money” held under my name. In every state, you can search for unclaimed money owed to you on your state treasurer’s or comptroller’s website.

I didn’t find any money this time, although I once claimed $13. However, you never know how much is in there. Just ask my cousin, Jim.

After searching Missouri, I searched Illinois, where I grew up, and where many of my family members still live. I found one result “under $100” for my deceased grandmother from a credit card company. Then I looked up Jim and found five claims, two of them listed as “more than $100.”

While Jim was at my Mom’s house for dinner one night, we looked his results up again and filed the claims. The next day, we got the results and total by e-mail: $3,400. Most of the money came from a retirement plan he had when he worked as a retail manager 15 years ago before moving to Tennessee for a couple of years.

That money sat in the state treasurer’s office for more than a decade while Jim struggled to pay his bills.

So, where’s unclaimed money come from? Let’s say you move to another state and a utility company can’t locate you to refund your deposit. Maybe an insurance company owed you a refund when you moved to another state and purchased new homeowner’s insurance. That money goes to the state treasurer under unclaimed money or unclaimed property.

If you’re lucky, like Jim, you could have money from stocks, and dividends from three jobs, and twenty years ago. You’ll never know unless you check. And why wouldn’t you? It’s easy.

But it’s also easy to get scammed by predatory “services” charging a fee to do what you can do for free. Here’s what you need to know about finding and receiving unclaimed money that you can often get your hands on in only a couple of weeks.

How to Search for Unclaimed Money

It’s simple to search for unclaimed money in your state, along with every state where you once lived.

Here are the official state sites where you can search for the unclaimed money you’re owed.

While you’re searching, keep in mind that states keep the money until it’s claimed, so heirs who meet identification requirements can even claim money owed to deceased relatives.

Never pay a company to file a claim for your money. There’s typically no fee charged by the state office for unclaimed property. If you have questions, call the government office listed in the links above. Claim your money there, and only there.

Unfortunately, my cousin’s huge amount of unclaimed money isn’t the norm. My $13 is more typical. However, there are plenty of $50 and higher amounts owed too. So, give your state site a search. You could end up with “free” money in your pocket.

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About the Author

Deb Hipp

Deb Hipp

Deb Hipp is a full-time freelance writer based in Kansas City, Mo. Deb went from being unable to get approved for a credit card or loan 20 years ago to having excellent credit today and becoming a homeowner. Deb learned her lessons about money the hard way. Now she wants to share them to help you pay down debt, fix your credit and quit being broke all the time. Deb's personal finance and credit articles have been published at Credit Karma and The Huffington Post.

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