Have you ever dreamed of getting a sudden financial windfall? An inheritance from a long-lost uncle, a winning lottery ticket, an unexpected bonus at work – that’s what financial fantasies are made of. What if we told you there actually might be a windfall in your future?
You could find unclaimed money you didn’t even realize you were entitled to, and that isn’t a scam. Most people don’t realize that they have missing money or property. But if you have moved across state lines, changed your name or lived in lots of places, it’s possible your money or property may have gone unclaimed because authorities were unable to track you down.
Not everyone has unclaimed money and property, of course. But it’s certainly worth the effort to see if you are among those who do. Use these tips to find missing money that may be waiting for you.
Find Unclaimed Money if You’re a Pennsylvania Resident
Your first stop on your quest to find unclaimed money and property should be the database maintained by the Pennsylvania Treasury Department. It helps track down the rightful recipients of some $2.3 billion in unclaimed property, and the state government claims 10 percent of Pennsylvanians have funds to be recovered.
Checking the database takes just a couple of minutes when you follow these steps:
- Go to the Claim What’s Yours PA Treasury page.
- Enter your last name or the name of your company in the first box.
- In the second box, enter your first name. This step is optional, but the more specifics you can give, the better the chance the information you receive will be correct and complete.
- In just a few seconds, the database will generate any unclaimed property in your name, broken down by single- and joint-owner claims.
- Click the check mark box on any unclaimed money or property that you would like to claim and request a claim form. Fill out the applicable information and print your claim form.
- Mail your claim form to the address on the form. If you placed your email address on the claim form, you’ll receive an email when your claim is received.
Whether you are searching the PA database or elsewhere, be sure to use all permutations of your name. For example, if you got married and changed your name from Jane Doe to Jane Smith, do your search under both names.
Search Other States Where You Have Lived for Unclaimed Money as Well
Don’t just look in Pennsylvania. If you’ve ever lived out of state, you will need to search in those states as well. Keep in mind, the process of searching for unclaimed money varies from state to state.
Most states have pages similar to PA’s unclaimed property database. You can search for the state name and “how to find unclaimed money” to find those pages. Make sure the domain is a “.gov” to know you can trust it. You can also go to unclaimed.org, a site recommended by the federal treasury department, to check places where you have lived.
Find Your Federal Unclaimed Money
Missing money isn’t limited to the state level. You may also have missing funds at the federal level as well, such as an unclaimed tax return or money back from a Federal Housing Administration-insured mortgage. Other federal-level money you may be eligible for includes:
- Unpaid back wages: The Wage and Hour Division database tracks unclaimed back wages for workers.
- Retirement: If a company you worked for went out of business or ended a pension plan, you may find missing money by using the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation.
- Bank funds: Many people switch banks when they move or get a new job. Sometimes they fail to close their accounts or, unbeknownst to them, the bank goes under. If a bank where you previously had an account failed, you may have funds waiting. You can check through the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation.
Reclaiming Your Money and Avoiding Scams
It will usually take some time to recover your unclaimed money after you have found it. State and federal databases usually offer claim forms you can print and mail in, but your information will have to be verified before any money is sent out. In some cases, you may have to have your documentation notarized before you submit it, and this service may require a fee that you pay directly to the notary.
You should also be careful to stick with government-affiliated sites as you search for missing money. Scammers do, unfortunately, target people who are looking for unclaimed funds. They set up websites that will ask you to send them money before your “funds” are released. You will never find that request on a legitimate website. Don’t submit your Social Security number to a non-.gov site, either, as it could be a scammer who will try to steal your identity.
Seek Out the Money That Belongs to You
If you have missing money, you deserve to find it. Take a few minutes today to see whether you have some unexpected money coming your way. And for more money management tips and resources, check out our WalletWorks page.