How to claim your unclaimed money

Woman counting cash from her wallet and contemplating claiming her unclaimed money Image: Woman counting cash from her wallet and contemplating claiming her unclaimed money

In a Nutshell

States are required to hold onto unclaimed property and money for you. Each state has a website that you can check for your money, along with instructions for how to claim it.

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Sometimes a financial institution has money or property that belongs to you, but it wasn’t able to deliver it to you for whatever reason. This property can come from many different sources, like uncashed paychecks from employers, insurance payouts, abandoned brokerage accounts, bank accounts or safe deposit boxes, and uncashed checks.

When a business or financial institution can’t find you, it has to turn over the property to the state where the account was held, which is a process known as escheatment. Once the state has the property, it keeps the property until you can claim it.

Here are the steps for claiming unclaimed property, if you have any.

  1. Go to the right website
  2. Get your documents in order
  3. File a claim
  4. Wait for your check

(Note that if you’re claiming money for your business or a deceased relative, the steps may differ.)

Recouping money that you’re owed is always a plus — but now could be an especially good time to check for unclaimed property if you’re looking for ways to help offset the financial effects of the coronavirus pandemic.


Step 1: Go to the right website

The process for claiming unclaimed money can vary by state. And while there’s no one-size-fits-all solution to getting your money, the first step to claiming your money is to go to the appropriate website.

If you go to Credit Karma Unclaimed Money, we’ll automatically point you in the right direction. Credit Karma will direct you to the applicable state’s treasury or state controller’s website, which is where you typically start the claims process to get your unclaimed money back. Or you can go to the table below, find your state and click on the link to go to its unclaimed property website.

For example, if you select California, you’ll get referred to the California State Controller’s Office’s website where you can claim your unclaimed property.

Step 2: Get your documents in order

If you’ve found missing money in your name and want to claim it, you’ll need to verify your identity.

The requirements may vary by state, but here are some of the documents you may need.   

  • A state-issued ID, like a driver’s license
  • Proof of Social Security number, such as a copy of your Social Security card or IRS Form W-2
  • Proof of the address associated with the property you’re claiming, such as a utility bill
  • Proof of your current address

These documents help verify your full name and address to confirm you’re the rightful owner of the missing money. Some states will accept copies of documentation, while other states will require originals.

Step 3: File a claim

Once you’ve gone to the right website and have your documents ready, it’s time for the fun part: filing a claim so you can get your missing money.

The first step is to carefully read the claim instructions on your state-specific site. Some states don’t allow for electronic submissions, while some allow you to file online if you meet certain conditions.

For example, residents of California can file online if the amount is less than $5,000 and they are the sole owner of the missing money. If the unclaimed money is owned by multiple parties, each owner needs to sign a Claim Affirmation Form and the money will be split among the parties.

If you can’t file online, you’ll need to mail a claim form along with additional documentation to verify your identity.

In some cases, if you’re owed more than $1,000 and can’t file online, you may need to print the claim form and get it notarized. Pro tip: Check with your bank — it may notarize it for free.

You then need to mail the form to the address specified in your state’s claim instructions.

Here’s a quick chart on how each state accepts claim forms.

Claims methods by state: Mail or online

Note: If you submit online, you may receive your funds faster. But not every state allows you to submit a claim online. Even if you can fill out the claim forms online, you may need to send those forms and other documentation by mail.

 

State Claims method

Alabama

Mail claim form

Alaska

Accepts online claims

Arizona

Mail claim form

California

Accepts some online claims

Colorado

Mail claim form

Connecticut

Mail claim form

Delaware

Accepts online claims

Florida

Mail claim form

Georgia

Accepts online claims

Hawaii

Mail claim form

Idaho

Accepts online claims

Illinois

Mail claim form

Indiana

Mail claim form

Iowa

Accepts online claims

Kansas

Mail claim form

Kentucky

Mail claim form

Louisiana

Mail claim form

Maine

Mail claim form

Maryland

Mail claim form

Massachusetts

Mail claim form

Michigan

Mail claim form

Minnesota

Accepts online claims

Mississippi

Mail claim form

Missouri

Accepts online claims

Montana

Accepts online claims

Nebraska

Accepts some online claims

Nevada

Mail claim form

New Hampshire

Mail claim form

New Jersey

Accepts online claims

New Mexico

Mail claim form

New York

Accepts online claims

North Carolina

Mail claim form

North Dakota

Mail claim form

Ohio

Mail claim form

Oklahoma

Mail claim form

Oregon

Mail claim form

Pennsylvania

Mail claim form

Rhode Island

Accepts online claims

South Carolina

Mail claim form

South Dakota

Accepts online claims

Tennessee

Mail claim form

Texas

Mail claim form

Utah

Mail claim form

Vermont

Mail claim form

Virginia

Mail claim form

Washington

Accepts online claims

Washington, D.C.

Mail claim form

West Virginia

Accepts online claims

Wisconsin

Mail claim form

Wyoming

Mail claim form

Step 4: Wait for your check

Once you’ve found missing money and submitted your documentation either online or by snail mail, you have to wait for your check to arrive.

Unfortunately, the timing can vary widely by state. It can take two weeks from the date you filed your claim, or more than six months in some cases. Sometimes, you may not know how much you’re getting back.

Amy Oztan, writer at AmyEverAfter.com, applied for unclaimed money through New York State and got a pleasant surprise.

“The way the (New York) claims work, I didn’t actually know what we were getting until the checks arrived,” she says. “I assumed they would be very small, but we got three checks totaling almost $900!”

Oztan says the process was easy. “The claim forms asked some basic questions to prove our identities, and that was pretty much it,” she says. “About 10 days later the checks all showed up. It really couldn’t have been simpler.”


Bottom line

If you’re eligible for unclaimed money, be sure to follow the instructions provided by your state and submit relevant documentation. Depending on your claim and the specific state, it may be processed in a short time — or it could take a while longer.

Whatever the case may be, it will be good to get your money back from the state — and back in your pocket.