There are many situations where you are owed assets, but may be unaware the assets exist or do not know how to file a claim. According to the National Association of Unclaimed Property, there was over 40 billion in unclaimed assets. Some of these assets were small, only valuing a few dollars, while others were as large as several thousand dollars.
There are many reasons why you may be unaware of these assets. One of the biggest issues is assets normally take a long time to get awarded. As a result, the party responsible for sending you a notice about the assets is using outdated information, so it goes to the wrong address. In other cases, the assets are only available if you are the one to initiate the request. Common examples of assets you may be owed include missing pension payments, tax refunds, old savings bonds and inheritance or insurance payouts. A former employer may also owe you money because of a work-related lawsuit involving the time you were employed.
As of writing, there are no federal resources to broadly search for unclaimed assets. There are a few departments that run searches for specific assets. Some companies specialize in searching for unclaimed assets, typically for a fee. There are also some free state resources you can utilize to find lost assets.
Using State Resources
It is common for either businesses, a government office or a third party to owe you assets. This can occur if you held a bank account with an agency that shut down, or if the state owes you a refund or tax return. Whenever these sources are unable to send your money, and enough time passes without you making a request, the assets are sent to the unclaimed property office in your state.
Every state unclaimed property agency has an option to search for assets. You can also find a list of accredited search tools through the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators. No matter which tool you use, you are required to submit several pieces of information, such as your name, address and Social Security number.
If you find unclaimed assets in your state, you must file an official request to retrieve the funds. This process varies depending on the state you live in. Depending on the assets owed to you, you may be asked to bring evidence with you. For example, if you are owed money from a closed bank, you may be asked to bring an old bank book or statement from your old account.
Additionally, if you are owed a tax return, you must make your claim through the IRS. When requesting a tax refund, you must provide either your Social Security number or taxpayer number, what your filing status was for the year and the exact amount you are owed.
Searching for Unclaimed Wages
Another situation where you may be owed assets is if there was a legal dispute with a former employer. These cases often take years to resolve, and if your employer is found guilty, he or she may be required to pay all employees for a set number of years. You are eligible for this payment even if you are no longer with the company. These requests often go missing due to outdated information.
You can search for unclaimed wages through the U.S. Department of Labor. Unlike other asset searches, you must search by the name of your old employer, not your own name. Another difference with unclaimed wages is the Department of Labor is not required to hold the assets indefinitely. You must make your claim for lost wages within three years, beginning from the date the assets were assigned to you.
If you are searching for unclaimed pension wages, you must go through a different system. You can use the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation to look for any unclaimed pension payments owed to you.
Finding Unclaimed Insurance Assets
It is difficult to find unclaimed insurance assets. If you are a veteran, you can search for unclaimed VA insurance funds directly through the Department of Veterans Affairs. The database does not check for missing assets from the Servicemembers Group Life Insurance or Veterans Group Life Insurance after 1965.
If you are searching for FHA-insurance related payments, you can go through the Department of Housing and Urban Development. When you are assigned an FHA mortgage, you also receive an FHA case number. The number is three digits long, followed by a dash, then another six numbers. You are required to list your case number when looking for unclaimed FHA insurance assets.
Unclaimed Investments or Bank Assets
Whenever there is a banking or credit union error in your favor, the bank or credit union must return your money. Some banks automatically return the money to your account, but many require you to submit a claim. If you no longer have an account with the bank or credit union, your money is temporary placed in a holding account.
The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation and National Credit Union Administration both have tools to search for unclaimed bank or credit union assets. If you are looking for unclaimed savings bonds, you can also search through the Securities and Exchange Commission.