You don’t need a metal detector to look for undiscovered valuables – just your mouse or touchpad. According to the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators (NAUPA) a few years ago, they estimate some $41.7 billion in unclaimed property is waiting out there – in abandoned bank accounts, safe deposit box contents, stocks, uncashed dividend or payroll checks, bonds, mutual funds and utility security deposits. Here’s how to start looking for some found money.
The Federal Trade Commission
If you’ve been scammed, know that the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is looking out for you. It enforces consumer protection laws, stops illegal business practices and best of all, gets refunds to people who lost money. It maintains a list of recent FTC cases that resulted in refunds, available by visiting here. For more information about how the FTC’s refund programs work, take a look at the Office of Claims and Refunds Annual Report.
Unclaimed Life Insurance
Widows, widowers and survivors can track down a life insurance policy. You must check the records of the state where the policy was purchased, not where the policyholder lived or died or where the insurer is headquartered. The National Association of Insurance Commissioners has contact information to get you started. Survivors of military veterans can search for unclaimed insurance funds at VA Life Insurance Funds – but bear in mind that this does not include funds from Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance (SGLI) or Veterans’ Group Life Insurance (VGLI) policies from 1965 to the present.
Unclaimed funds, refunds and other cash
Bank accounts: People who move around a lot may not remember all the accounts they or their spouses may have. Every state maintains a listing of unclaimed funds or property; you may find a nice surprise by looking at the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators, right here.
Wages and benefits: People who job hop face a similar situation. If you think you may be owed back wages from your employer, you can search the Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour division’s database. Check their website for Unpaid Wages. If your company went out of business or ended a defined plan, you may have a pension waiting for you. The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation can help you with that if you visit their website here.
Mortgages: If you had an FHA-insured mortgage, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development might have a refund for you. Visit the HUD website here with your FHA case number and see.
There might be a silver lining hidden in that storm cloud. If your bank failed, you can search the FDIC website here to check for unclaimed funds. You can do the same for a failed credit union at the website of the National Credit Union Administration here. If you’ve experienced harm as an investor, the SEC may have compelled the offending company or person to make restitution; check SEC Claims Funds
And believe it or not, if an infant grandchild got into your purse and ripped up a twenty, or the cash in your wallet got soaked in a storm, the Treasury Department will exchange mutilated or damaged U.S currency for free – under certain conditions. Learn more here.