How to Track Down Unclaimed Money
- Author: Kelly Cooke
- Posted: 2022-11-14
The topic of unclaimed funds is something of a controversy among the public. It's one of those things that exists, yet its existence is often mistaken for or tied up in scams.
From the popular Nigerian Prince scams to the different phone-call scams — a myriad of scams have sprung up and flourished in the age of the Internet. Because of this, people are very skeptical about the possibility of being owed money, FREE money. And, rightfully so.
However, all these Digital Age modus operandi stand in stark contrast against the reality of unclaimed money — which is a very real and legitimate thing.
One quick example: According to South Carolina's official Treasury Department, the state is currently sitting on an excess of $750 million in unclaimed funds. And, a good number of other states find themselves in a similar situation.
How is this possible? The fact is that many private businesses are legally obligated to return overpayments, payments made to a defunct business, insurance rebates, and so on. The issue here is that a lot of people move homes or leave inaccurate information in their documents. And so, their money is recorded as legally returned but left on standby in a treasury office somewhere.
Depending on your state, the location of the money may be different. However, this money ends up somewhere; it doesn't just vanish. Knowing how to properly track them down can potentially lead you to some unclaimed money that you never knew existed.
During these times of inflation, bordering hyperinflation, every little bit helps. Knowing how to navigate this mysterious field might just give you what you need to get through the day, week, or month. So, wisen up. Here are two tips to get you started on the right path.
1. Check Online Using Your Correct Information
There are different sites that you can use to track down potential unclaimed money. What to avoid among these are the sites that ask for your credit card information.
Remember: No legitimate site will ask for a membership fee in order to track down your money. This is a scam, because tracking down unclaimed money can be done for free. For instance, if you know the right treasury office, you can call or visit them and check for any unclaimed funds under your name at no cost.
So, if a website is trying to charge you, just close that tab and move on.
The next thing to do is your due diligence. Look up site reviews to check if you can trust a website with your information.
Once you've found a good, trustworthy website, make sure to provide your correct and most updated information. Again, being cautious and skeptical is understandable. However, giving the wrong birth date, address, or phone number leads to withheld or misdelivered unclaimed funds.
2. Act Quickly
While the money doesn't technically vanish, it might still be spent.
For instance, say that your former insurance company got bought out or went bankrupt. Maybe before that happened they tried to pay you a rebate of $3,000, which they sent to a previous address of yours. They couldn't find you, but they have to pay this money to you by law. So, it ends up in some state office somewhere.
Never expect the state office to contact you about this on their own. Because, while they are obligated to give you the money if asked, they would much rather you don't ask.
The reason: if you don't claim your funds in X amount of time (it differs by state), the state can use that unclaimed money for their own funding. Roads, schools, government salaries, etc. — your unclaimed money will eventually be used for these purposes.
So, again, it's important that you look into your potential unclaimed money as soon as possible. Waiting too long may lead to your state already spending your money for you. Worse, they will be incredibly slow about giving that money back.
Lastly, keep in mind that there's never any guarantee that you are owed money — unclaimed or otherwise. But, it definitely doesn't hurt to check. Just make sure to (1) find a reputable website to search on and (2) brace yourself for a pleasant surprise.