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Missing Money: Troll the Web for Abandoned and Unclaimed Property Owed to You

This article was written by in Personal Finance. 7 comments.


The company I work for “found” several million dollars last year thanks to a common law that originated in feudal England to the benefit the King.

Not every check that a company sends in the mail gets cashed. Supposed recipients, such as investors, employees, insurance beneficiaries, companies, and other customers, don’t always keep current addresses on file with said company. When the checks are lost in the mail, and the companies issuing the checks have tried for a year to get in touch with the recipients, the companies can’t just forget about the payment. They can’t reclaim the money. The funds must be escheated to the last known state of residence of the recipient.

States are strongly in favor of this arrangement as it provides them with income from time to time. But the states must also publish lists of the original intended recipients, just in case they come around and want to claim the money that is rightly theirs.

All state unclaimed property offices work together in the form of the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators (NAUPA).

The internet and NAUPA have made it easier for states to publish their abandoned property databases as well as for individuals to search these databases. When my company decided to look for money it was owed but never claimed, a search of just the biggest states resulted in claims totaling several million dollars. Needless to say, the company’s internal businesses that received these funds from the various states were quite happy with the unexpected income.

It was probably in 2000 when I first heard that there was a possibility that there existed in the world money someone had once attempted to send to me. I searched the unclaimed property databases for New Jersey, New York and Delaware. Unsatisfied with my results, I searched (fruitlessly) for money originally destined for my parents and other family members.

Missing Money unclaimed propery website logoThese days, searching for unclaimed property is easier. Many states work together to combine their database in one central location, Missing Money. When I originally performed my searches, only 25 states participated with Missing Money, but now there are only 15 states (including U.S. territories) that are not yet included in the central database.

No more than three people in my company work with NAUPA and the states to reclaim all funds originally intended for the businesses, and their first sweep of the largest rates resulted in income of more than ten million dollars. That doesn’t include millions of dollars that was found but will never be claimed due to unidentifiable co-owners.

A quick search of several websites can prove to be worthwhile, even if it doesn’t result in finding millions of dollars. Here are all the links you’ll need:

If you do find that you may be owed money, you’ll have to file a claim and provide positive identification. The process could take some time. If you don’t find anything, put a reminder in your calendar to check back in a year.

Updated June 20, 2014 and originally published April 9, 2008. If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the RSS feed or receive daily emails. Follow @ConsumerismComm on Twitter and visit our Facebook page for more updates.

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About the author

Luke Landes is the founder of Consumerism Commentary. He has been blogging and writing for the internet since 1995 and has been building online communities since 1991. Find out more about Luke Landes and follow him on Twitter. View all articles by .

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar David

I recently did this and was amazed to find I had like $28 sitting there from an old EZPass account in Maine. I was also amazed that after filling out the online form, they sent me a check in about two weeks. I imagine not all claims would be so easy, but it’s definitely worth a look!

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avatar Luke Landes ♦127,500 (Platinum)

David: Talk about excellent service… nice!

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avatar frizzy

I have some disturbing follow-up to my claim found through MissingMoney.com. (I can’t find my post here from last week on this subject, or I would post below it…)

When I didn’t hear anything after filling out my on-line claim — and stupidly including my ss# on it — I called the State of Massachusetts this morning and they said they never received anything at all from MissingMoney about my claim. They said they have no affiliation with them and can’t answer for why my claim never went to them. VERY UPSETTING. Massachusetts had never heard of NUAPA, either. I wouldn’t recommend these sites unless someone can answer for what happened to my claim.

Whatever I have sitting in that little bank account from decades ago, it isn’t worth what my social security account number is worth.

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avatar Luke Landes ♦127,500 (Platinum)

Frizzy — that’s very surprising. Are you sure you spoke to the right person with Massachusetts? The states all work directly with NAUPA. If the person you spoke to had never heard of NAUPA, then the only explanation is you spoke to the wrong person.

My company uses these resources all the time without any problem… well, sometimes there are communication problems, but not normally.

My recommendation still stands. But you can certainly file your claim with Massachusetts directly through this link. It never hurts to go through the state directly if there are any questions about Missingmoney.com, but it’s official and hasn’t presented a problem for us.

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avatar Jessica

Wow, thanks a lot for posting this. I didn’t find any money for myself, but I did locate over $200 in a 20+ year old payroll check for my dad. He’s already promised me a finder’s fee. :o)

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avatar caudillcrew10 ♦125 (Cent)

I’m definitely going to check that out, I’d love to find some missing money!

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avatar kamiila

I would like to help people to find they money.How would go about it.
Your help will be gratly appreciate.
kamiilaa

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