Unclaimed property can be money in various forms that people have forgotten or lost track of over the years. It might be an unclaimed bank account, security deposits, uncashed checks, insurance policies, and more. You’re probably not going to discover that you’re a millionaire, but you may find $20 or even a few hundred—and who doesn’t love extra cash, whatever the amount? The good news is that it’s pretty easy to search for unclaimed property and potentially reclaim what’s rightfully yours. Here’s how to get started:
1. Visit your state’s unclaimed property website
The first step in your search for unclaimed property should be to visit your state’s official unclaimed property website. Each state has a government department or agency responsible for managing and returning property to its rightful owners. You can find a list of these websites on the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators (NAUPA) website.
2. Use your full legal name
When conducting your search, it’s crucial to use your full legal name. Databases are typically organized by the name associated with the assets. Make sure to check all variations of your name, including maiden names and common misspellings.
3. Search for multiple addresses
If you’ve moved frequently or lived in different states, be sure to search for forgotten property in all the states where you’ve resided. Property can become unclaimed if the holder (e.g., a bank or employer) loses contact with you.
4. Check for unclaimed paychecks
Former employers may have unclaimed paychecks waiting for you. Include any past workplaces in your search, especially if you’ve changed jobs frequently.
5. Search for unclaimed insurance policies
Insurance policies, including life insurance and annuities, can sometimes go unclaimed. Search for policies you may have forgotten about or that were taken out by family members on your behalf.
6. Look for uncashed checks
Uncashed checks, such as refunds, dividends, or tax refunds, may have become unclaimed property. Check the databases for any outstanding checks in your name.
7. Explore unclaimed safe deposit boxes
If you’ve ever rented a safe deposit box, the contents could become unclaimed property if the bank loses contact with you. Inquire with the bank where you rented the box and check the state’s database.
8. Be wary of scams
While searching for unclaimed property, be careful of scams. Scammers may contact you, claiming they can help you recover your property for a fee. Legitimate websites and government agencies never charge fees for these services. Avoid any offers that sound too good to be true.
9. Provide required documentation
If you find property in your name, follow the instructions on the state’s website to file a claim. You’ll usually need to verify your identity and ownership of the property. Common documents you may have to show include photo ID, Social Security card, proof of address, and proof of ownership.
10. Stay persistent
Sometimes, it can take time to actually recover anything through the process of reclaiming your property. Be patient, and follow up with the relevant authorities if you need to. Keep records of your communication and any documents you submit.
The bottom line: how to search for unclaimed property
Searching for unclaimed property can be a simple way to recover lost assets. By visiting your state’s relevant website, using your full legal name, and checking multiple addresses, you can probably find anything that belongs to you. Remember to be careful to avoid scams during your search, and be ready to provide the required documentation when you file a claim.