Sometimes, money gets lost. We leave cash in odd places. We forget we even had it.
I’m talking about back wages, old 401Ks, bank failures, utility deposits, unclaimed life insurance, FHA refunds, undelivered tax refund checks — the list goes on and on, amounting to billions of dollars.
The best part: The ways to search for this money are free. Helping everyday citizens claim lost money is one of the duties of the U.S. Treasury Department. You don’t need to hire a dubious service or spend money to make money.
Here are effective ways to track down those dormant dollars:
1. Start your search for missing money in your home state
Finding money is pretty simple, but your search depends on where you live. Each state has an independent treasury website, which has a special search function for unpaid dues.
Each site is a little different, but follow the step-by-step instructions, enter your information, and the database will do the rest. As always, use a secure network; this is precisely the kind of data that cybercriminals love to gather and use against you.
To find the link for your state’s treasury website, go to Google and type unclaimed funds + state name. Make sure the treasury site is real. (It should have a “dot-gov” address.)
Pro Tip in a Tip: If you have a name that is frequently misspelled or has variations that are often confused (Schmid, Schmidt, Schmitt), search those misspellings on the unclaimed fund’s sites, as well.
2. Next, search for unclaimed property nationally
If you’ve lived or done business in many states, I recommend using MissingMoney, which is designed to connect you to the correct treasury departments.
MissingMoney is a free government search site. All the site asks for is your name and your resident state(s). Living in several places does complicate your search.
3. Check the IRS for unclaimed tax refunds
If you think the IRS might owe you money, you can file a claim to the IRS to update them about your new address. Additionally, if an employer withholds funds from you, the IRS gives you up to three years to submit a claim.
4. Look for retirement funds
Every retirement plan is different, and things can get complicated if you move from one company to another. As a former employee, it’s your task to see whether past benefits or retirement savings can be transferred or cashed out. Similarly, pension plans and retirement benefits are controlled by different governmental sectors.
The National Registry of Unclaimed Retirement Benefits will help you find money being held from prior employers, while the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation can assist in your search for money tied into pension plans.
Make it an annual practice to search for unclaimed funds. Do it on an anniversary, your birthday, Fourth of July, or some other important day that you’ll remember each year.
For information on Kim Komando on today’s digital lifestyle, from smartphones and tablets to online privacy and data hacks, visit her at Komando.com.