What is unclaimed money? Believe it or not, there are billions of dollars waiting to be claimed from state governments. Find out more and see if you could put some money back in your pocket.
By MELANIE LOCKERT
Let's be honest. If someone told you that you might have some money lying around that you didn't know about, you might be a little curious, but you'd probably also be skeptical. And who's to blame you? In a world full of scams, it can seem too good to be true.
But in reality, there's more than $40 billion in unclaimed money sitting with state governments. If some of it has your name on it, it may be easy to claim.
So what exactly is unclaimed money? Read on to learn more and find out how you can claim money that belongs to you.
What is unclaimed money?
Unclaimed money, often called unclaimed property, is money that eventually goes to the state after the rightful owner fails to collect it.
Let's say you decided to switch bank accounts during a move, and you closed out your old account. The bank tried to send you your last check, but you didn't set up a forwarding address and didn't update your contact information.
After one year or more, those assets are unclaimed and go to the state. That money is lawfully protected and kept by the state to be returned to the owner — rather than reverting back to the party who initially distributed the money.
In most states, the money is generally held until the owner is found.
Where does unclaimed money come from?
Unclaimed money can come from more places than you think. Some common forms of missing money include:
- Checking accounts.
- Savings accounts.
- Payroll checks.
- Investment accounts.
- Trust distributions.
- Customer overpayments.
- Utility security deposits.
- Life insurance payouts.
After hearing about unclaimed money on the internet, Dan Franks, co-founder of the Podcast Movement conference, decided to look into it.
Surprisingly enough, there was a record of missing money for him. The unclaimed money was from Stubhub, which he believes was from tickets he sold on the site but never received the check for.
Franks filled out the required information and signed a one-page affidavit vouching that he was the rightful owner of the money. To prove his identity, he sent in a bill as well as a copy of his driver's license.
"I sent it in, and a few weeks later I got a check back," he says. The check was for a cool $800 — not exactly chump change, but money he'd forgotten about nonetheless.
Where can you find unclaimed money?
If you want to find your unclaimed money, Credit Karma is making the process easy for you with Unclaimed Money.
This is a new feature that helps users discover if they have unclaimed property. You can search for missing money for yourself, a friend or relative. The best part? It's absolutely free, just the way we like it.
How does Credit Karma Unclaimed Money work?
To search for unclaimed property, simply go to the Unclaimed Money page, then enter your full name and state. You may also choose to narrow it down by city.
If there's a match, we'll let you know and offer instructions on how to file your claim.
Currently, we're supporting California, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas and Wisconsin.
Don't live in one of those states? Don't worry. We'll refer you to the appropriate state-specific site where you can check for any missing money.
If we don't find any matches for unclaimed money, there's still good news. If you have a Credit Karma account, then we'll notify you in the future if there are any matches for you in certain states.
What you need to do to process a claim
You've found money using Unclaimed Money — now what? We'll refer you to the state-specific site to claim your money. The steps to process a claim will vary by state, but you will need documentation to verify your identity. Some states will accept copies of documentation, while other states will require originals.
For example, you may need the following:
- A copy of your driver's license or other state issued I.D.
- Proof of your Social Security number, such as a copy of your Social Security card or IRS Form W-2.
- Proof of your current and/or previous addresses, such as a paystub.
While some states may allow you to apply online, other states may require you to mail in your documents. The turnaround time can vary — you may receive your money within a few weeks to a few months.
How to make the most of Credit Karma Unclaimed Money
In order to maximize your chances of finding any unclaimed money, be sure to do an extensive search. Of course, you'll want to search your full name in the state you live in, but don't stop there. Search for any other states you have lived in before as well.
Check family members and deceased relatives that may have left you an inheritance. You can check your maiden name, middle name or any common misspelling of your name.
You can also check your friends' names while you're at it, and easily let them know if you find something by using our easy email tool.
Billions of dollars go unclaimed each year, and some of that money could be yours. Using Unclaimed Money, you can easily check if there is unclaimed property available for you, your friends or your family.
The service is completely free (and always will be), unlike some companies that try to take a cut or finder's fee. What's there to lose? Check it out and let us know what you think. Who couldn't use a little more money?
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