June 15, 2024
Learn how to find money owed to you with this informative guide. Discover step-by-step methods for searching for unclaimed property, old accounts, uncashed checks, forgotten deposits, tax refunds, and more.


Have you ever wondered if you have money out there that you don’t know about? You might be surprised to learn that unclaimed money is a common problem. In fact, according to the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators, state treasuries and other agencies currently hold $42 billion in unclaimed funds. The good news is that you can find and claim this money with some effort. In this article, we’ll show you how.

Explanation of the problem

Many people have money they don’t know about. Maybe you moved and forgot to forward some mail. Perhaps you have old accounts you don’t use anymore. It’s also possible that you never received a check or deposit you were owed. Whatever the reason, it’s easy for money to go unnoticed, but that doesn’t mean it’s gone for good.

Importance of identifying and claiming money owed to you

Even if you think the amount of unclaimed money may be small, every bit counts. That forgotten deposit, uncashed check, or old account can add up to a significant sum of money over time. Additionally, once unclaimed money is turned over to the state, it begins earning interest. So identifying and claiming money owed to you is important to prevent it from becoming someone else’s gain.

Overview of the main ways to find unclaimed money

There are several ways to find unclaimed money. You can start by searching for unclaimed property or contacting old accounts. You can also request a reissue of an uncashed check, locate forgotten deposits, claim unclaimed tax refunds, or find retirement accounts. Finally, you can check for outstanding bench warrants that may be related to unclaimed bail money.

Search for Unclaimed Property

Explanation of unclaimed property and how it works

Unclaimed property is any type of asset that belongs to an individual or business but has not been claimed for a certain amount of time. This property is typically held by the state where the owner lives, operates a business, or has ties to. Common types of unclaimed property include bank accounts, stocks, safe deposit box contents, and uncashed checks.

Step by step guide to search for unclaimed property

  1. Start by visiting your state’s unclaimed property website or using a national search engine such as MissingMoney.com
  2. Enter your name, address, and other identifying information such as your social security number
  3. Review the search results and follow the instructions to claim any property that belongs to you

Tips to increase the chances of finding unclaimed property

  • Search using variations of your name, such as your maiden name or middle initial
  • Search for family members who may have unclaimed property as well
  • Check multiple states, especially if you’ve lived in several places over the years

Old Accounts

Overview of the types of accounts to search for money

There are several types of accounts you may have forgotten about that could have money in them, including bank accounts, retirement accounts, and insurance policies.

Advice on how to go back to past records and locate forgotten accounts

  • Start by reviewing old bank statements and tax returns
  • Contact past employers or schools to see if you have an old retirement account
  • Check with insurance companies or brokers to see if you have an old policy or policy rider that you paid for but that never was activated.

Suggestions on how to resolve issues that may arise during the search

If you encounter issues while searching for old accounts, such as a company that no longer exists or lacks your information, try contacting the state comptroller or department of revenue to see if they have any additional information.

Uncashed Checks

Explanation of how to request a reissue of an uncashed check

If you have a check that you didn’t cash and was considered stale-dated, then you must order a replacement from them. You will likely have to contact the person or entity that issued the check.

Tips to follow to avoid common mistakes

  • Make sure to have the correct address or contact information for the person or entity that issued the check
  • Check that the check is not staledated before ordering a replacement
  • Keep good records of all your payments and payments that have been made to you, ensuring it allows you to follow up in case any issue arises.

Details on the time frame and the outcome of the request

The time frame and outcome of a request to reissue an uncashed check vary depending on the entity that issued the check. It is impossible to provide a specific timeframe as the procedure can be different for each company.

Forgotten Deposits

Explanation of what forgotten deposits are and how to discover them

A forgotten deposit is a deposit that you made but didn’t withdraw, or a deposit that someone made on your behalf that you don’t remember about. To discover forgotten deposits, start by thinking about possible places that may hold money, such as a landlord, school, or employer. Then contact those places to ask if they are holding money on your behalf.

Advice on how to contact landlords, schools, or employers to find forgotten deposits

Call or email the person in charge and ask if they are holding any funds for you. If so, ensure you have the correct address or email to where the funds are to be sent

Solutions to common obstacles that could appear during the search process

If the employer, school or landlord has changed and can’t locate the funds or refer you to the current entity that’s holding it, then try searching the name of the organization plus the words “unclaimed funds” or “unclaimed property” and the city or state it is located. If that doesn’t work, contact the state comptroller or department of revenue for guidance on next steps.

Tax Refunds

Overview of the process of claiming unclaimed tax refunds

If you think you’re owed a tax refund, but the government hasn’t issued one, you may be able to claim it. To do this, you will need to contact the IRS and file a claim. You can do so by making sure you filed every single year since the return of interest. If there was a missed year or two during your filing history, you will have to correct that as well. The tax refunds date back three years.

Step by step guide on how to contact the IRS and file a claim

  1. Gather all necessary financial documentation, such as previous tax returns, W-2s, and 1099s, which can help you to prove your case.
  2. Contact the IRS directly and request help with the status of your return by calling 1-800-829-1040.
  3. If the issue is more complex, you can schedule an appointment for an interview with a representative.
  4. If it’s been a while since you filed the return, you can secure an online transcript copy, fill out the missing IR 4506 T form, (and pay the $50 fee), and then follow the tax return amendment process.

Tips on how to speed up the process and avoid mistakes

  • Start early—it’s wise to file your taxes as early as possible to avoid any issues.
  • Make sure you file complete and accurate tax returns
  • Keep good records of all your tax returns, income, and expenses

Retirement Accounts

Explanation of how retirement accounts work and how to find forgotten accounts

Retirement accounts (such as 401(k)s or IRAs) are a common source of unclaimed money for many people, especially if they’ve changed jobs frequently. You’ll need to contact the plan administrator to find out whether you have an old account and if you can roll it over to an existing account.

Guide on how to contact past and present employers to locate retirement accounts

  1. Start with your current employer, requesting account balances, quarterly statements and online access credentials and login.
  2. Contact previous employers and ask if they have an old 401(k) or pension account that belongs to you. They may prefer to transfer the funds to you, or you may have to open a new account on your name at the company with which the previously dormant account was kept.

Details on how to claim and manage the money found

If you find money in an old retirement account, you will need to contact the administrator to claim it. Once you have the money, decide if you want to roll it over into a new account or collect it. Make sure you understand any tax or penalties that may apply before deciding what to do. Also, make sure to keep track of required distributions and any fees that come with them.

Bench Warrants

Explanation of the connection between bench warrants and unclaimed bail money

Bench warrants are often issued when a defendant fails to appear at court, but if the court doesn’t return the bail money sent, the defendant would have the right to claim it.

Guide on how to check if there are any outstanding bench warrants in your name

You can search for outstanding bench warrants in your name by visiting your local court’s website or contacting the court directly.

Tips on how to claim unclaimed bail money

If there is unclaimed bail money related to a bench warrant, you’ll need to contact the court to claim it. Be prepared to provide identifying information and show proof that you posted bail.


Recap of the main points covered in the article

In this article, we discussed the main ways to find unclaimed money, including unclaimed property, old accounts, uncashed checks, forgotten deposits, tax refunds, retirement accounts, and bench warrants.

Advice on what to do next if you find unclaimed money

If you find unclaimed money, make sure to follow the necessary steps to claim it right away. Don’t let the money sit unclaimed any longer than it has to be.

Encouragement to take action and locate money owed to you.

There’s nothing to lose by trying to find money owed to you, but there’s a lot to gain, including additional financial security.

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