Learn more about unclaimed money

Woman holding an open wallet and thinking about unclaimed moneyImage: Woman holding an open wallet and thinking about unclaimed money

In a Nutshell

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.
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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.

Ready to search? Find your state’s unclaimed money site.

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 easier for you with Unclaimed Money.

This is a directory of state websites that helps users discover if they have unclaimed property. You can search for missing money for yourself, a friend or relative.

How does it work?

To search for unclaimed property, simply go to the Unclaimed Money page.

We’ll refer you to the appropriate state-specific site where you can check for any missing money.

What you need to do to process a claim

You’ve found money using Unclaimed Money — now what?

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.

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.

Bottom line

Billions of dollars go unclaimed each year, and some of that money could be yours. Using Credit Karma’s directory of state websites that list unclaimed money, you can easily check if there is unclaimed property available for you, your friends or your family.

About the author: Melanie Lockert is a freelance writer and editor currently living in Portland, Oregon. She is passionate about education, financial literacy and empowering people to take control of their finances. Her work has been f… Read more.