How to Tell Whether an Unclaimed Asset Site is Legitimate or Not
- Author: Michael Bordonada
- Posted: 2022-10-18
The unclaimed asset industry is a huge industry with tens of billions of dollars up for grabs. Naturally, this attracts scammers. Among them, there are two main types.
The first steals your information. They do this by contacting you via phone or email and asking for your personal information to "verify" that you are "that person" who's magically "owed millions of dollars". Once at hand, they'll use your info to open credit cards in your name and perform other types of identity theft.
The second type is a bit more insidious. These scammers will find money that is actually owed to you, notify you of it, and get all the information required to claim your money. They will then deceive the agency that declared your unclaimed money into sending the funds to them instead. To recover money that's been scammed away this way, you would need to locate the scammers yourself and report them to police.
In either case, it's much easier to proactively recognize scams and avoid becoming a victim of them. Here are sites you can use that are not scams and will guide you towards assets that are rightfully yours!
Relatively new and thoroughly scrutinized, Unclaimed.org is an irreplaceable "all-in-one" solution for unclaimed assets searching today. Unlike most databases, this site uses a "meta-database" that automatedly searches every other known state and local database for any and all unclaimed assets. Some searches might require "captchas", but that's just to ensure that the visitor is a real person.
2. Federal Sites
Federal sites (such as Veterans' Affairs Administration) track money owed to beneficiaries of past or present employees. As URLs for these sites frequently change, verifying their authenticity can be tricky but absolutely necessary. An easy way to do this, though, is by simply:
- Checking if the link ends with ".gov"; and
- Double-checking if the link you clicked matches the ".gov" link you see in text
3. Local Libraries
While news aggregators like Google News attempt to include every state and local newspaper in their news pool, meticulous newspaper archives kept by libraries remain unparalleled.
These libraries often possess exclusive collections of newspapers that date back to their inception. This is important to remember, especially with government bodies exclusively posting notices of owed money in newspapers (or wherever else they're legally required to).
When searching for unclaimed assets through your local library, the first think to look up is your state's statute of limitations on unclaimed assets. There's no use searching for papers published after this statute of limitations. Hence, you can limit and focus your search.
Next, ask if the library uses "OCR" technology. This essentially reads papers into text, like Google News does, and then allows you to search for different words or phrases. Sometimes, this can even help you search centuries' worth of newspapers in a matter of minutes, which can help you be as thorough as you want in your search for unclaimed assets!
What's the Best Method?
There's no one "best method" for finding unclaimed assets. While we go over a good variety in this blog, there's no guarantee that a single aggregator will contain the records that indicate you, specifically, are owed any additional money.
That's why you'll need to look for context first. Dig into your ancestry. Ask people in your life (tactfully) if you're their potential beneficiary.
From there, each person should have a unique "attack plan". Of course, it's ideal to begin with the easiest platforms; sites such as Unclaimed.org and online federal databases. But, chances are you'll need to visit a local or state-level library to do a more substantial search through newspapers.
Hopefully, with all of these methods, you'll finally definitively know whether you're owed unclaimed assets once and for all!