How to Find Lost Money – For Free

Do you remember every financial account you’ve had over the years?  Have you moved around a fair amount?  Surprisingly, someone might want to give you some lost money money back, but they don’t know how to find you!  Seriously, that’s the case with money or property in accounts where the institution or company has accounts they consider abandoned.  What happens is that over time, the account is considered abandoned and the funds eventually are turned over to the state.  That money is still available to you but you have to go claim it, otherwise the state gets to keeps it.

What is an Abandoned Account?

Accounts become “abandoned” in a number of ways. You can fail to cash a check, forget to update the address on the account, fail to respond to a proxy statement or simply fail to make contact with your financial institution for a “defined period of time.”   That time period can range anywhere between just three and seven years.

How to Find Your Lost Money

How do I find out if I’m due any money, and how much does it cost?  The answer to the second question is a big NOTHING!  If anyone sends you a letter, or contacts you about helping you find your money for a charge, it is probably a scam because the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators (NAUPA) and the states don’t charge anything to search.  NAUPA – yes that organization is real – provides a free website to use to search for funds from several states.  Go to  www.missingmoney.com and enter your name and state (or search all states) to see if you recognize your address or one of your former addresses.  If so, then the site has information on how to put in a claim for your funds. 

I should point out that not all states participate in this single database, but often run their own websites for missing owners of funds.  Delaware happens to be one of them, so you can go to unclaimedproperty.delaware.gov to search for Delaware money.    Pennsylvania also has set up the site www.patreasury.gov/unclaimed-property for abandoned funds. New Jersey has set up www.unclaimedproperty.nj.gov. Maryland uses the missingmoney.com database.

Take a look at missingmoney.com and look for your state. If you don’t find it on their list, then search for “(state name) unclaimed property” to find your particular state’s website.

An Example Payoff

At my suggestion, a relative did a lookup on his name.  He reported that after he went to the site, he discovered he had two valid claims!  One was a check issued to him that had not been cashed, and another was the deposit on utilities on a house he rented while in college!

Although your search may not be as successful as my relative, it doesn’t cost anything to look!