No, I’m not talking about checking the pockets of your pants before laundering your clothes or overturning seat cushions for spare change. This task is even easier and could possibly result in hundreds or thousands of dollars added to your or your business’ bank account. Sound too good to be true? It’s not. In fact, earlier this month, five days after doing this simple task, I received a check in the mail for over $400. I performed this task for my employer, and the company received several thousand dollars in funds. How can you do the same?
Every state has millions of dollars in unclaimed property. Luckily, each state also has a website where you can see if any unclaimed property belongs to you or your business. Unclaimed property includes lost or forgotten assets such as uncashed checks and dividends, dormant bank accounts, security deposits, or items left behind in a safety deposit box. If you think there’s no way you could lose track of hundreds of dollars of your own money, think again. Maybe you moved and a vendor didn’t have your forwarding address, or you overpaid your electric bill years ago, or, as in my case, you switched auto insurance companies, and the prorated premium refund check never made it to your mailbox. In other words, you don’t have to be an unorganized person to have lost assets lingering somewhere. Finding them is a breeze.
First, visit the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators website. Scroll mid-way down the page and click on the state in which you live. This will take you to your state’s unclaimed property website. Alternatively, you can perform a Google search using your state + “unclaimed property” to find the correct website. Next, use the search boxes to input your or your business’ name. Last, browse through any results using the directions on the website to claim property belonging to you.
Here are a handful of search tips that may help you uncover your unclaimed assets:
- Initially search by last name only. If you have a common last name, also include your first name, performing a search for each form of your name (e.g. Smith, James; Smith, Jim; James Smith; Jim Smith).
- Forego other search features unless necessary. Do not input a city, zip code, or middle initial unless there are too many results to easily browse. You may filter out a potential claim if your search is too narrow.
- Be thorough. Search not only for all forms of your name as mentioned above, but also search for your maiden name, nickname, and other assumed names.
- Search other states. If you ever lived or worked in another state, make sure you search that state’s unclaimed property website as well.
- Look for business claims. If you are self-employed, or you want to go above and beyond for your employer, search by company name. Remember to search all possible forms of a business name (e.g. UPS; U.P.S.; U P S)
If you’re the sole owner of an unclaimed asset, the process to claim it and provide proof of identification is straightforward and should be very simple and quick. Claiming an asset of a deceased family member or a business may be a bit more cumbersome as more documentation is required to prove rightful ownership. However, you can decide if the payout is worth the time and effort to gather all necessary information for the claim. This could be a good task for a company’s financial or accounting department. It doesn’t matter how old the claim is or whether it’s for a now-defunct business; if it was reported to the state, it will be there.
Good luck in your search! I hope you find some extra spending money this holiday season!