Claim lost money: How to find benefits, old accounts, deposits, wages owed


I’ll never forget helping Robert from Virginia find $24,578 sitting in a bank account he didn’t know existed. He heard me talk about how to find hidden money on my national radio show.

These days, just about everything seems like a scam, but money might be yours, just waiting to be claimed. You need to know the legitimate places to look. 

Why is all this unclaimed money sitting around? You have to do some work to get it. Here’s how.

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Don’t hire a service for this

Helping everyday citizens claim lost money is one of the duties of the U.S. Treasury Department. You are entitled to any of your or a deceased relative’s old bank accounts, safe deposit box contents, uncashed checks, insurance policies, CDs, trust funds, utility deposits, stocks and bonds, wages, and escrow accounts.

You don’t need to hire a dubious service or spend money to make money. If anyone asks for payment to help you find unclaimed property, ditch them. You can easily do it yourself.

Hey, I pass along smart tech know-how like this every day with my email newsletter. Get it here. It’s free!

Start in your home state

Your search begins where you live. Each state has an independent treasury website with a special search function for unpaid dues. 

Man searches for records in a vault.

Director of the Unclaimed Property Department, Elliott Kindred, searches for boxes of unclaimed property in their vault area (storage room) at the Chief Financial Officer’s office in downtown DC.  (Rich Lipski/The Washington Post)

Skip Google since scammers abound on searchers like this. To find the link for your state’s treasury website, visit the National Association of Unclaimed Property site. Select your state or province.

Each state’s site is a little different, but follow the step-by-step instructions, enter your information, and the database will do the rest. Often, the paperwork you need to complete to claim your money can be printed on these pages.

You will also need to prove your identity and likely have signatures notarized. The time to collect depends on each government agency; it can take weeks or months, but it works.

Pro tip: If you have a frequently misspelled name or have variations that are often confused, search for those misspellings on the unclaimed funds’ sites. Search for any former names or nicknames, too.

Expand your search

Your specific state search may lead you to a national database site, MissingMoney.com. If you’ve lived or done business in many states, this site will connect you to the correct treasury departments.

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MissingMoney is a free government search site. All the site asks for is your name and resident state(s). Living in several places does complicate your search, so you may have to sift through the results.

Check for VA life insurance benefits

The U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs offers a search on its site for unclaimed insurance funds owed to current and former policyholders or beneficiaries. The search does not include funds from Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance (SGLI) or Veterans’ Group Life Insurance (VGLI) policies from 1965 to the present. But it’s worth a shot.

Simply search for your or your veteran’s last name on the VA.gov site.

Forgotten retirement funds

As you move from company to company in your career, it’s your task to see whether past benefits or retirement savings can be transferred or cashed out. You could have money sitting in a past 401K account you forgot.

The National Registry of Unclaimed Retirement Benefits will help you find money being held from prior employers. To search, you will be asked to enter your Social Security number. The site is secure and promises to encrypt personal information and conduct regular security audits. It seems safe to me.

Social Security Treasury

PHILADELPHIA – FEBRUARY 11:  Blank Social Security checks are run through a printer at the U.S. Treasury printing facility. (William Thomas Cain/Getty Images)

Don’t forget about closed banks and investments

Banks close like other businesses. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) offers a specialized search to see if money in your name was left in any failed financial institutions.

You can search the money left in credit unions at the National Credit Union Administration site.

At TreasuryHunt.gov, you can look for any matured savings bonds that have stopped paying interest.

Check for unclaimed tax refunds

The Internal Revenue Service may owe you money. Every year, the IRS has millions of dollars in tax refunds that go undelivered or unclaimed. 

If you think the IRS might owe you money, you can file a claim to the IRS to update them about your new address. Additionally, if an employer withholds funds from you, the IRS gives you up to three years to submit a claim to collect your money.

IRS documents

The IRS is silent about how often it dispatches agents to people’s homes Tuesday on the heels of journalist Matt Taibbi saying he received an unannounced visit from Uncle Sam at his New Jersey residence.  (Luke Sharrett/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Let me know how you do

You never know what you’ll find. Set a reminder to do this on an anniversary, your birthday, or another date you’ll remember each year. Let me know if you find a hidden treasure so I can celebrate with you.

Keep your tech-know going 

My popular podcast is called “Kim Komando Today.” It’s a solid 30 minutes of tech news, tips, and callers with tech questions like you from all over the country. Search for it wherever you get your podcasts. For your convenience, hit the link below for a recent episode.

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Check out my podcast “Kim Komando Today” on Apple, Google Podcasts, Spotify, or your favorite podcast player.

Listen to the podcast here or wherever you get your podcasts. Just search for my last name, “Komando.”

Sound like a tech pro, even if you’re not! Award-winning popular host Kim Komando is your secret weapon. Listen on 425+ radio stations or get the podcast. And join over 400,000 people who get her free 5-minute daily email newsletter.

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