Finding Unclaimed Money: What Happens to Checks You Never Receive?

There is rumored to be billions of dollars unclaimed each year. Sometimes these funds come from unclaimed deposits, failed credit cards, abandoned bank accounts or even unclaimed pensions.

Finding this money can be a bit tricky, but you can do it with a little due diligence. It might even be worth a look if you just suspect there is money out there owed to you, as you never know how much it might be. For example, if the money was sent as a check, and the check was no longer valid after 90 days, the money may have been returned to the sender and you would have to track down the funds on your own. Below are five common sources of unclaimed money that are worth investigating.

Unclaimed Deposits

In the USA, each state typically runs its own database when it comes to companies that have held deposits for accounts. By running a search through your state with your name, or any last name you previously had, you should be able to find monies owed to you. There are a few not-for-profit organizations that can help you find the links to the proper site and start you on your search for missing funds.

Failed Banks

Banks are typically insured by the FDIC. If you did not go through the process of claiming your money when your bank failed, your funds are being held by the FDIC. You can go to the FDIC website and run a general search to find out if any money is owed to you and if so how much. The filing process can be a bit cumbersome, but in the end can lead to the return of your monies.

Failed Company Pensions

The Pension Benefit Guarantee Association handles all pensions from companies that went under. If your company was bought out by another company or still exists, then you must go to the company directly to find out about any pension benefits due to you. If not, you can go to the PBGA website to start your claim to find out the status of the failed company’s pensions and where to start the filing process.

Retirement Money

The Employee Benefits Security Administration is a Federal agency that oversees retirement money and forwards that money to the rightful owners. This department of the government can sue companies to seize retirement money to make sure workers receive the monies owed to them. By gong to the Employee Benefits Security Administration website, you can start the process of finding out the status of your retirement money.

Abandoned 401(k)s

There is a search engine designed to help people find missing 401(k)s. Sometimes when a person leaves a job they do not take their 401(k) with them. That means the money in the account just sits there. Even if you stop contributing, you do not lose the money already in the account. You might lose some of the money put in by the employer, depending on when you were fully “vested,” but you never lose your contributions to the account. If the company is still in business you should be able to get the information directly from the company but if not, you can use the search engine to track down the money.

According to the law of most states, you will get unclaimed money only if the funds are listed in your name, though some individuals may have access to unclaimed money if they have evidence that they are the surviving relatives of deceased people whose names bear the unclaimed funds. When making claims, you only need to have the necessary paperwork processed, prove your identity, and in some cases, show the death certificate of the deceased person.

Sam is a financial blogger working with Wonga, a company that provides short term loans. When not blogging about finance, Sam can be found trying to avoid the heat in Phoenix.

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