9 Places to Find Free Money
State treasuries and other agencies are holding more than $40 billion in unclaimed assets, according to the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators (NAUPA).
State treasuries and other agencies are holding more than $40 billion in unclaimed assets, according to the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators (NAUPA). Some of it could be yours.
Unclaimed assets, often from accounts that have been inactive for a certain period of time, can include checking and savings, payroll checks, utility deposits and tax refunds. They may also include stock certificates, certificates of deposit, insurance benefits, pension payments and safe-deposit-box contents.
This slide show will point you toward resources that will help you track down your missing money.
The Unclaimed Property Clearinghouse
Whether you’re just curious or you suspect that you or someone in your family has missing assets, the best place to start your treasure hunt is Missingmoney.com. The national database is endorsed by the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators (NAUPA), as well as 39 U.S. states. You just need to enter a last name and state to start your nationwide search.
Your State's Unclaimed Property Program
- For a more targeted search, you can try NAUPA's www.unclaimed.org. The site connects you directly to each state's program. It also includes links to Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and a few Canadian provinces. The specific search can help you avoid getting overwhelmed by MissingMoney's nationwide results, especially if you have a common name. Just be sure to check all the states in which you've ever lived.
The Internal Revenue Service
The Internal Revenue Service is a treasure trove of lost loot. In 2017, the IRS reported that more than $1 billion in refunds were waiting to be claimed by people who had not filed 2013 returns. The average unclaimed check is for $763. You have three years to file past returns and claim your refund—so you have until April 17, 2018, to file your 2014 return. And you will not be penalized at all for filing late if you get a refund.
- If you did file your return and have yet to receive your expected refund, go to the IRS's Where’s My Refund? page. You need to enter your Social Security number, your filing status and the amount you were due as shown on your tax return.
Your Old Insurance Policy
Over the past decade, some major insurers, such as John Hancock, MetLife and Prudential, have demutualized. That is, they converted from mutual life insurance companies, owned by their policyholders, into publicly traded firms, owned by shareholders. In this process, the firms give their policyholders shares of stock or cash. The size of the payout depends on the face value of the policy, the length of time the policy has been in force, and the total amount of premiums paid.
However, many of the insurers couldn’t find policyowners. If you suspect that you or family members might be affected, contact the insurance company and ask about the possibility of missing demutualization money. The firm may have already surrendered the unclaimed assets to the state, in which case you can try tracking it down via Missingmoney.com or www.unclaimed.org.
Your Forgotten Stock Portfolio
Another common missing asset, old stock certificates, may be harder to track down. If you have the CUSIP number—an identification number used for stocks and bonds—call your broker and find out the value of the security. If you don’t have the CUSIP number but know the name of the company, try the investor-relations department of the firm and ask the registrar to help you.
- If the company already surrendered your unclaimed assets to the state—if it failed to locate you after it was acquired, for example—again you can check for the funds through Missingmoney.com or www.unclaimed.org. Just be sure to look for your name in three states: where you lived at the time of purchasing the stock, where the company was based and where it was incorporated.
Your Former Employer's Pension Plan
Were you a participant in a pension plan offered by a company that went out of business or closed its plan? Millions of dollars of pension benefits go unclaimed because those owed the money can't be found.
When your former employer can't find you, your pension money goes to the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp., a government agency that protects retirement income. Check the PBGC's unclaimed pensions database to see if you're on its list of people owed benefits.
Your Old Bank
If your bank or financial institution closed and you didn't claim the funds in your account, you still might be able to get your money. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. has a list of unclaimed insured deposits at firms that were shut between 1989 and 1993. Post-1993 bank assets go directly to state treasuries.
Using the FDIC's BankFind tool, you can also trace what became of the old bank—for example, if it was absorbed by an existing financial institution that you can contact.
The Treasury Department
Savings bonds are more often forgotten than lost—billions of dollars of matured savings bonds have never been cashed.
To track down lost bonds, submit the Fiscal Service Form 1048, Claim for Lost, Stolen, or Destroyed United States Savings Bonds to the Treasury Department with dates of purchase, names on bonds and other pertinent information.
Credit Karma, a consumer website that offers free credit scores and tax preparation, recently launched a tool that lets you search for unclaimed property in 20 states. The company plans to add more states; if you click on one that’s not included in the program, you’ll be directed to that state’s own unclaimed-property website.
You don’t have to be a member of Credit Karma to use the tool. However, if you become a member, Credit Karma will notify you of future unclaimed-property reports that match your profile. Membership is free; Credit Karma makes money when you sign up for recommended products, such as credit cards and car loans.
Why You Should Invest in Index Funds
Invest in index funds to reap long-term outperformance and low fees.
By Coryanne Hicks • Published
Kiplinger Reader's Choice Awards: Travel Rewards Credit Cards
Kiplinger Readers' Choice Awards These are the winners of the Kiplinger Readers’ Choice Awards' best travel rewards credit cards category. Our awards celebrate the very best products and services in personal finance.
By Lisa Gerstner • Published
5 Great Places to Buy a Vacation Home
With remote work on the rise, more people are looking for a permanent getaway.
By Ellen Kennedy • Published
Etsy, eBay, PayPal Want IRS 1099-K Relief for Online Sellers
Companies like ebay, Etsy, and PayPal want Congress to raise the new $600 reporting threshold for IRS Form1099-K to give relief to millions of sellers who use their sites.
By Kelley R. Taylor • Published
Tax Scam: IRS Warns Taxpayers Against Filing False W-2 Info
Scams A new tax scam on social media advises lying on your W-2 to falsely claim credits and bigger refunds.
By Ben Demers • Published
529 Plans Get a Boost With Tax-Free Rollovers to Roth IRAs
You’ll soon be able to roll over funds from your 529 plan into a Roth IRA, thanks to recent legislation.
By Erin Bendig • Published
Why Your Tax Refund Might Be Lower This Year
According to the IRS, “taxpayers may find their refunds somewhat lower this year," due to the expiration of several major tax breaks that were available to filers during the pandemic.
By Erin Bendig • Published
Filing Taxes Early or Later — Which Is Best?
When filing taxes, some people like to file early and others like to file later. Many experts think it's best to file early, but whichever side you're on, here's what you need to know.
By Erin Bendig • Published
The 10 Cheapest Countries to Visit
Despite inflation, there are some areas where the strong dollar will definitely work in your favor. Travel, for example... we find the cheapest places to visit around the world.
By Quincy Williamson • Published
IRS Says Direct Deposit Is the Best Way to Receive Your Tax Refund
IRS says the best way to receive your tax refund is by direct deposit. Here's how to do it.
By Erin Bendig • Published