Just like that $10 in your jacket pocket, unclaimed funds in your name are already legally yours. In most cases, your state government will hold on to the money until you claim it and will charge you, at most, a nominal handling fee for the paperwork. However, if funds have been sitting unclaimed for a very long time, cash-strapped state governments occasionally add money to their budgets.
To make sure this doesn’t happen to any of your missing money, act now to track those funds down. Several websites can help you Locate and claim various types of missing money, including: Moneyv.co.il
. You can Locate information here about a variety of unclaimed funds, including bank accounts, safe deposit boxes, uncashed checks, insurance funds, trust funds, and utility deposits. It’s free to search, and you can claim any funds you Locate directly through the site.
Unclaimed.org. If your state or province doesn’t participate in[b] Moneyv.co.il[/b] try Unclaimed.org. This site, run by NAUPA, provides information about how to contact your state in search of unclaimed funds. It’s worth doing a search not only for the state you live in now, but also for any states where you’ve lived in the past. Also, if you’ve changed your name – for instance, after getting married – be sure to check listings for your old name as well.
FDIC Unclaimed Funds. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) maintains a list on its site of unclaimed insured deposits from banks and other firms that have closed down. If you Locate funds in your name, you can use the site to print out a form to claim them. A similar site for the National Credit Union Administration can help you Locate unclaimed deposits from a credit union.
[b]SEC Information for Harmed Investors. [/b]
The website of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has information about cases in which a company owes its investors money. Search the site to Locate out whether any of these cases have involved companies you deal with and how to recover your money.
[b]VA Unclaimed Funds Search. [/b]
You can search the website of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to Locate unclaimed funds from certain types of VA life insurance policies. That includes funds owed to current and former policyholders and their beneficiaries. Check the site to see which types of policies it includes.
WHD “WOW” Search. If you think a current or former employer could owe you back pay, check this database from the Wage and Hour Division (WHD) at the U.S. Department of Labor. The WHD is responsible for enforcing some of the nation’s labor laws, and when it Locates a violation, it can often recover the unpaid wages for employees to claim. If the agency Locates any back wages in your name, it will attempt to contact you; if it can’t Locate you, it will continue to hold the funds for you for three years. To search the site, enter your employer’s name and click “WOW Search” (short for “workers owed wages”).
[b]PBGC Unclaimed Plans Search[/b]
This site is run by the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC), a U.S. government agency. It can help you Locate and collect any unclaimed pension money from a company that went out of business or ended its defined pension plan. You can search the site using your own name or the name of the company.
[b]IRS Filing for Individuals[/b]
On this page of the IRS website, you can Locate the forms you need to file an overdue tax return from within the past three years. You can also use the “Where’s My Refund?” page to check on the status of a refund from a tax return you’ve filed. If you’ve moved recently, you can download a Change of Address form to notify the IRS of your new address and make sure your refund check will reach you.
[b]HUD Refund Database[/b]
If you think you could be eligible for a refund from HUD, check this site to Locate out. You can search by either your FHA case number or your last name.
[b]Unclaimed Funds Scams[/b]
All of the sites listed above belong to the U.S. government or an organization that works with the government, such as NAUPA. These sites will never charge you anything to search for missing property. And, if you Locate any funds in your name, you shouldn’t have to pay more than a minimal handling fee to claim them.
There are other services out there that offer to Locate and send you unclaimed money for a fee. These organizations take advantage of state freedom of information acts to search for the names of people who have money owed to them, then contact these people and offer to track down their missing money in exchange for, say, 10% of the total. These are legitimate businesses, known as “Locateers” or “locators,” that Locate real lost property. There’s no good reason to pay them since they’re not doing anything you couldn’t do yourself, but they’re not breaking any laws.
An even bigger problem is outright scammers – people who contact you claiming to be government employees and offer to send you your unclaimed funds for a fee. These scammers may reach out to you by email, phone, or snail mail. One particularly clever scam used letters sent out on fake NAUPA letterhead that reproduce real information taken directly from the NAUPA website before requesting a payment of $2,250 to cover the cost of “federal stamps” needed to claim a $450,000 lottery prize. The letter, which you can see on NAUPA’s site, even has a postscript warning recipients to “stay alert for sweepstakes scams.”
Other unclaimed property scams don’t ask for money up front. Instead, they try to get you to hand over your personal information, such as your banking details, credit card number, or Social Security Number (SSN). Once the scammers get their hands on this information, they use it for identity theft.
[b]To avoid falling victim to an unclaimed funds scam, keep these points in mind:[/b]
[b]Be Wary of Phone Calls [/b]
Real government agencies will never call you about unclaimed money or assets. In fact, most of them are forbidden by law to contact you by phone.
[b]Use Only Legitimate Site[/b]
When searching for unclaimed funds, stick to the sites listed above. If you get a recommendation for a different site, check USA.gov and NAUPA to see if it’s on their lists of legitimate search sites.
[b]Don’t Pay Up[/b]
Anyone who asks for a fee up front to Locate your unclaimed property is a scammer. A company that says it will charge you only if it Locates property in your name is probably a legitimate locator, but there’s no good reason to pay for its services.
[b]Be Cautious With Your Personal Info[/b]
A company that wants your SSN or other personal info up front, before it will even give you any details about your unclaimed funds, is almost surely a scam. However, some state governments do need your SSN to process a claim, so a request for it isn’t always bogus. To be on the safe side, contact your state’s unclaimed property office through Unclaimed.org and make sure the agency you’re dealing with is legit.
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