I faintly remember receiving a letter almost 7 years ago from an attorney’s office. It stated there was a lawsuit against my previous employer for not giving their employees proper meal breaks.
The letter asked if I would reach out to them and give them any information that may help their case.
I didn’t feel like my previous employer had done anything wrong, and not wanting to be involved in the case, I simply tossed the letter and forgot about it.
Fast forward to 2019, and I came across an article on CNBC stating that unclaimed assets are on the rise. According to NAUPA, (the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators), “States are collectively holding on to $41.7 billion in unclaimed assets, including dormant bank accounts, stock splits, life insurance payouts, gift cards, and uncashed payroll checks among other funds.“
What are unclaimed assets?
Unclaimed assets refers to accounts in companies and institutions that have had no contact with the owner for longer than one year.
Some common forms of unclaimed assets include unused bank accounts, insurance policies, payroll checks, tax refunds, annuities, customer overpayments, royalties, utility security deposits, unredeemed certificates, lawsuit payments, uncashed dividends, and inheritance.
What happens to unclaimed assets?
Representing the best interest of consumers, each state has implemented an unclaimed property statue that protects your funds from reverting back to the company if you have lost contact with them.
These laws instruct companies to turn over unclaimed assets to a state official who holds the lost funds until you are found.
According to senior vice president of NAUPA Joshua Joyce, “This is an area that’s growing. It’s still surprising how many people don’t know that these government programs exist.”
How Do States Return This Money?
State treasurers and officials who administer unclaimed asset programs have developed effective methods to locate the owners.
This includes cross
This national search database has worked well as millions of potential lost owners search this site every year. This has resulted in a vital consumer protection program that has returned money to people at a rate of $2 Billion dollars a year.
How Do I Begin My Free Search?
The biggest obstacle is that most people assume they don’t have anything to claim.
According to Mary Pitman, author of The Little Book of Missing Money, “Everybody thinks it doesn’t apply to them, but it’s incredibly easy for money to end up in the hands of the state as they have been more aggressive about collecting dormant funds.“
Companies are required by law to send these funds to state officials. This means you could have unclaimed assets in every state you have lived in.
The best place is to begin your search is on Find Unclaimed Assets, a site that is endorsed by the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators. This database contains the collective record from all state’s unclaimed property programs. The site is free to use.
Here’s What Happened When I Looked Myself Up
The database of unclaimed assets is free and only takes about 30 seconds to search for unclaimed money.
I didn’t know of any money that was lost or owed to me and honestly, I wasn’t expecting anything when I entered in my name.
You can imagine my shock when the results came back that I had 4 cases totaling $1,458 of unclaimed money in my name.
How did this happen?
As it turns out, the previous company I had worked for had lost the lawsuit and they were required to pay out a $3 million dollar settlement to their employees.
Because I had not responded to the initial letter, they had no way of contacting me and so the funds eventually went to the state.
The amount that I was to receive from this settlement was $1,213.47.
Where did the rest of the money come from?
Come to find out, I also had 3 other cases of unclaimed money in my name. This included:
- An old bank account where I was receiving disability checks from the time I broke my arm and had to take 3 months off work. I guess I had left a balance in this account from 5 years ago. There was $217.35 in this account.
- An overpayment of child-support from 3 years prior worth a total of $27.15
- And probably the funniest, a
reimburesementcheck from my old credit card company worth a total of $0.17.
This came out to a total of $1,458.14 of unclaimed assets in my name.
There’s nothing better than finding free money
Although this was technically my money, I wasn’t even aware that it existed. It was literally the same feeling as if I was walking down the street and found an envelope on the ground with my name on it and $1400 inside.
The most surprising thing to me, is hardly anyone knows about this free resour
With over $40 billion of unclaimed assets currently in the states possession, I imagine there are millions of other people out there just like me who aren’t even aware this money exists.
If you have never looked up your name in the Unclaimed Assets Database before, I recommend you do.
You may get lucky and discover you have more money waiting for you to claim than you thought.