|A Public Service of Mark Kantrowitz|
Money that belongs to you might be sitting in a state
unclaimed property office, just waiting for you to claim it.
Unclaimed property offices and state escheators currently
hold several billion dollars of "lost money" belonging to millions of
people. This web page (www.unclaimedproperty.info) will tell you how
you can find out - for free - whether there is unclaimed property
belonging to you, and how to claim that property.
How Property Becomes LostMost unclaimed property becomes abandoned as a result of a change of address (the owner moved), a name change (the owner got married or divorced), or death of the owner (the estate was unaware of the money or the heirs could not be located). Sometimes the owner knows about the asset, but is unaware that it has been decleared abandoned and turned over to the state.
For example, here are a few of the most common scenarios in which you could "misplace" your money and not even know about it:
To prevent your property from getting lost, you should keep an up-to-date list of all your family's assets, including bank accounts, certificates of deposit, mortgage escrow accounts, retirement accounts (IRA, Keogh, and 401(k)), layaways, stocks, bonds, mutual funds, life insurance policies, security deposits, and safe deposit boxes. If you change your name or address, write to the address associated with each asset to notify them of the change. Likewise, if you regularly receive insurance benefits or dividends, and the checks stop coming, promptly notify the company of the problem.
What is Unclaimed Property?Unclaimed property can include:
What Happens To Unclaimed Property?
Every state has unclaimed property laws which declare money, property, and other assets to be abandoned after a period of inactivity of three to five years. During this abandonment period landlords, banks, utilities, hospitals, brokerage firms, mutual funds, insurance companies, and other organizations are required to try to return the valuables to their rightful owners. If they are unsuccessful, they then turn the property over to the state's abandoned-property division or unclaimed property office.
According to a US Supreme Court decision (Texas vs. New Jersey, 379 US 674, 1965), the unclaimed property is returned to the state of the property owner's last known address. If no address is known, it is returned to the state in which the business holding the funds is incorporated.
The unclaimed property office then tries to find the rightful owners, by placing advertisements in newspapers and trying to trace the owners. Unfortunately, many states only advertise the new additions to their files.
There is no time limit on claiming your property. Abandoned property has been reunited with its rightful owners 30, 40, and even 50 years after it was turned over to the state. Some states have unclaimed property dating to the late 1800s. (A few states have started setting time limits, but in most cases a tracer that talks about statute of limitations is trying to create a false sense of urgency.)
If the owner of the property is deceased, the relatives can file for the unclaimed property.
Finding Out About Your Lost MoneySo how can you find out if there's money waiting for you? Very simply. If you think there might be unclaimed property that belongs to you, call or write to the unclaimed property office in each state in which you or your deceased relatives have ever lived. A list of the addresses of state unclaimed property offices appears below. It is a good idea to check with these offices every five years, even if you are certain that you haven't lost any property.
The unclaimed property office will ask for your name (including your maiden or former names), your Social Security number, current address, and all previous addresses where you lived while in the state. They will want the same information about any other individual for whom you're the legal beneficiary.
The unclaimed property office will use this information to check their database. If there's a match, they'll send you a form to fill out. You'll have to provide proof
Once you submit the claim form, it should take about two months for you to get the check.
Even if you don't find any money, you should continue to check with the unclaimed property offices every few years. Sometimes the money takes a while before it is turned over to the unclaimed property office.
Don't Pay Finder's Fees
Don't pay a fee for someone to locate your unclaimed property.
Tracers are professionals who make a living finding the owners of unclaimed property. They then contact the owners, and offer to help them locate their unclaimed property for a fee. The fees range from 10% of the value of the property to as much as 60%. All you get for the fee is the name and address of the state unclaimed property office that has your property.
If a tracer tells you there's money waiting for you, you can call the state yourself and get the money without having to pay anybody anything. States return abandoned property for free.
If the tracer is unwilling to tell you which state has the unclaimed property, try calling or writing each of the states listed below. Start first with the states in which you've lived, and the states in which your deceased relatives lived. Also try the state in which the tracer is located, since many tracers specialize in tracing their home state's unclaimed property listings. Once you know that there is unclaimed property waiting for you in some state's coffers, it is very easy to file a claim. If all else fails, sending a postcard to each of the state unclaimed property offices will cost you less than most finder fees.
If you come up empty-handed, try waiting a year and trying again. Some tracers buy unclaimed property lists directly from major companies, in order to get a head start on the state unclaimed property office. (A few states have passed laws making it illegal to charge finders fees once the unclaimed property is published on the state's list.)
Of course, you may decide to pay the tracer's fee because it is convenient. If so, try to negotiate the fee down to 20% or less before signing any contract. (You have some leverage in the negotiation because they do not get paid if you do not sign the contract.) Also ask for information about their guarantees. For example, in some cases you may already know about the property and were just not aware that it had been turned over to the state.
Ask about the amount of money. If the amount is more than $10,000, have an attorney review the contract before you sign it. You might also want to negotiate a flat fee or a lower percentage if the unclaimed property has substantial value.
If a tracer asks you to pay money up front, don't pay anything. Reputable tracers always work on a percentage basis and get paid after you receive your money, not before.
Also beware of the Nigeria scam, in which someone sends you a forged cashiers check for greater than the amount due you and asks for you to send them the difference. It can take a week or two for the forged check to bounce, but they will have already absconded with the money you sent them. Never ever pay any money up front to recover your assets. Wait until a month after the check clears before paying the finder's fee. Also, the payment to you will come from a reputable source, such as the state treasurer's office.
You should also beware of outfits which charge a flat fee for nothing more than a list of unclaimed property offices.
Federal Unclaimed Property OfficesIf you had an old FHA mortgage paid off before November 5, 1990, you may be due a refund. For more information, call the FHA Support Service Center at 1-800-697-6967, see the HUD Get A Refund search engine on the HUD site, or write to HUD, Distributive Shares Branch, PO Box 23699, Washington, DC 20026. Questions about refunds may be emailed to email@example.com.
The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation maintains a list of 12,000 people who are owed approximately $27 million in unclaimed pension benefits. The PBGC database can be searched by name, company name, or state using the Find Missing Participants tool. PBGC also provides a Find My Plan tool.
The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) says that old stock and bond certificates may still have value, even if the company has changed names or merged with another company. They recommend contacting the transfer agent for the stock or bond certificate. Usually, the transfer agent's name will be printed on the certificate. If the transfer agent no longer exists, try contacting the state agency that handles corporations in the company's state of incorporation; usually this is the department of state. Your broker may also be able to help you. You might also be able to sell the stock certificate on eBay as a collector's item.
The Social Security Administration also keeps records about people who qualify for certain pension benefits. When you apply for Social Security benefits, they automatically check your name and Social Security Number against the pension records database and will inform you if there are any matches.
The Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSI) is the regulatory agency with oversight over retirement funds. It works to ensure that retirees get the money that is owed to them. The EBSI web site includes an Abandoned Plan Search tool that can be used to find retirement plans that are terminated or in the process of being terminated.
If you forgot about a bank account, try calling your state banking commission. If the bank account was at a bank or savings & loan that went out of business, try calling the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation's (FDIC) Division of Resolutions and Receiverships (DRR) at 1-888-206-4662. They can help you track down the current location of your bank accounts and reunite you with your funds.
You can also search for bank accounts (including IRAs) with failed banks on the FDIC web site. The search tool is very sensitive to how you spelled your name in the account title, so try your name in several variations (i.e., with and without the middle name or middle initial, with and without a period after the middle initial, etc.).
If you have an unclaimed income tax refund, contact the IRS for information on how to obtain the refund. There are two types of unclaimed income tax refunds:
If you know that a Federal agency has money belonging to you, but need the phone number for the agency, try calling the Federal Information Center at 1-301-722-9000 or visiting USA.gov or the Federal Citizen Information Center at 1-800-FED-INFO (1-800-333-4636) or visiting Info.gov. They can direct you to the appropriate Federal office. USA.gov publishes a guide to unclaimed money from the federal government, including information about undelivered and unclaimed federal income tax refund checks.
Unclaimed State Income Tax RefundsThe following is a list of links to state web sites for checking on the status of your state income tax refund. States that do not have a state income tax are not listed.
Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California (Previous Years), Colorado, Connecticut (Previous Years), Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts (alternate), Michigan (alternate), Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri (Previous Years), Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon (OregonRefund.com, Previous Years), Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah (Tax Express), Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin.
US Savings Bonds
After US Savings Bonds have reached their maturity dates, they stop earning interest. You should cash them in at that time. You can check what a US Savings Bond is worth today using the Savings Bonds Calculator.
If you have lost your US Savings Bonds, you can file a claim to have them replaced using Form PD F 1048. It helps if you kept a record of the bond serial number, issue date, registration, and the social security number of the bond owner. But the Bureau of Public Debt may be able to trace the bonds even without the serial numbers. For more information, use Treasury Hunt or send email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Life Insurance Policies
The National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) provides a Life Insurance Policy Locator Service that can be used to find lost life insurance policies and annuities of deceased relatives.
Life Insurance Company Demutualization
Several of the nation's largest life insurance companies started as mutual life insurance companies, which are owned by the policyholders. When these companies converted to publicly traded firms through a process called demutualization, shares of stock were issued to the policyholders in exchange for their ownership interest. If the current address of the policyholder was unknown, the shares of stock and any dividends are held in trust. Millions of policyholders and their heirs may be entitled to these funds.
The largest life insurance companies that have demutualized include the following firms:
A more comprehensive list of more than 75 life insurance companies that have demutualized is maintained by Glenn Daily, a fee-only insurance consultant.
If you believe you may be owed money or shares from the proceeds of the demutualization, contact the insurance company directly. If the demutualization occured more than five years ago, usually you will then be referred to the state unclaimed property office.
National Registry of Unclaimed Retirement BenefitsThe National Registry of Unclaimed Retirement Benefits (NRURB) is operated by PenChecks, Inc., the largest national processor of retirement plan distributions. Occasionally, retired individuals may have forgotten about a retirement plan, or they may have moved and failed to inform their retirement plan about their new address. The National Registry of Unclaimed Retirement Benefits is an attempt by PenChecks to match people with records of abandoned retirement plans, such as 401(k)s, IRAs, pensions and profit sharing plans. Their database lists more than 50,000 individuals who are owed retirement plan distributions. Most are owed $500 to $1,000.
State Unclaimed Property OfficesA list of the state unclaimed property offices follows. If an unclaimed property office maintains a web site, the name of the state is linked to the web site.
In addition, there is now a free national database that combines the state databases. This site, called Missing Money, is sponsored by Checkfree.
ALABAMA State Treasury Unclaimed Property Division PO Box 302520 Montgomery, AL 36130-2520 1-334-242-9614 ALASKA Department of Revenue Unclaimed Property Unit 1111 W. Eight Street, Room 106 (99801) PO Box 110420 Juneau, AK 99811-0420 1-907-465-4653 Includes a searchable interface to the name database. ARIZONA Department of Revenue Unclaimed Property Unit 1600 West Monroe PO Box 29026 Phoenix, AZ 85038-9026 1-602-542-4643 ARKANSAS Auditor of State Unclaimed Property Division 1400 West 3rd Street, Suite 100 Little Rock, AR 72201-1811 1-501-324-9670 CALIFORNIA Division of Collections Bureau of Unclaimed Property PO Box 942850 Sacramento, CA 94250-5873 1-916-445-8318 1-800-992-4647 (in CA) COLORADO Unclaimed Property Division 1560 Broadway, Suite 1225 Denver, CO 80202 1-303-894-2443 Includes a searchable interface to the name database. CONNECTICUT Unclaimed Property Division Department of Treasury 55 Elm Street Hartford, CT 06106 1-860-566-5516 Includes a searchable interface to the name database. DELAWARE Bureau of Abandoned Property PO Box 8931 Wilmington, DE 19899 1-302-577-3349 DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA Office of Finance & Treasury Unclaimed Property Unit 810 1st Street NE, Room 401 Washington, DC 20004 1-202-727-0063 FLORIDA Department of Banking & Finance Bureau of Unclaimed Property 101 E. Gaines Street, Fletcher Building Tallahassee, FL 32399-0350 1-904-487-0510 or 1-904-488-0357 1-800-848-3792 (Comptroller's Hotline) 1-888-258-2253 (Unclaimed Property Office, FL only) Includes a searchable interface to the name database. GEORGIA Dept of Revenue Property Tax Division Unclaimed Property 270 Washington Street, SW, Room 404 Atlanta, GA 30334 1-404-656-4244 HAWAII (search) Unclaimed Property Section PO Box 150 Honolulu, HI 96810-0150 1-808-586-1589 IDAHO Unclaimed Property Division PO Box 36 Boise, ID 83722-2240 1-208-334-7623 ILLINOIS State Treasurer's Office Unclaimed Property Division P.O. Box 19495 Springfield, IL 62794-9495 Phone: 1-217-782-6692 See also www.cashdash.net INDIANA Attorney General's Office Unclaimed Property Division 402 West Washington, Suite C-531 Indianapolis, IN 46204 1-317-232-6348 1-800-447-5598 Includes a searchable interface to the name database. IOWA Unclaimed Property Division State Capitol Building Des Moines, IA 50319 515-281-5366 See also the Great Iowa Treasure Hunt. KANSAS Unclaimed Property Division 900 Jackson, Suite 201 Topeka, KS 66612-1235 1-913-296-4165 or 1-800-432-0386 Includes a searchable interface to the name database. KENTUCKY Unclaimed Property Branch Kentucky State Treasury Department Suite 183, Capitol Annex Frankfort, KY 40601 1-502-564-4722/6142 Includes a searchable interface to the name database. LOUISIANA Louisiana Dept of Revenue & Taxation Unclaimed Property Section PO Box 91010 Baton Rouge, LA 70821-9010 1-504-925-7407/7425 Includes a searchable interface to the name database. MAINE Treasury Department Abandoned Property Division 39 State House Station Augusta, ME 04333-0039 1-207-287-6668/2771 MARYLAND (alternate link) Unclaimed Property Section 301 West Preston Street Baltimore, MD 21201-2385 1-410-225-1700 1-800-492-1751 Includes a searchable interface to the name database. MASSACHUSETTS Abandoned Property Division 1 Ashburton Place 12th Floor Boston, MA 02108 1-617-367-0400 Includes a searchable interface to the name database. MICHIGAN Unclaimed Property Division Michigan Department of Treasury P.O. Box 30756 Lansing, MI 48909 1-517-636-5320 Includes a searchable interface to the name database. MINNESOTA Minnesota Commerce Department Unclaimed Property Section 133 East 7th Street St. Paul, MN 55101 1-612-296-2568 1-800-925-5668 Includes a searchable interface to the name database. MISSISSIPPI Unclaimed Property Division PO Box 138 Jackson, MS 39205-0138 1-601-359-3600 MISSOURI Missouri State Treasurer Unclaimed Property Division PO Box 1272 Jefferson City, MO 65102-1272 1-573-751-0840/0123 MONTANA Unclaimed Property Division Department of Revenue Mitchell Building Helena, MT 59620 1-866-859-2254 (1-406-444-6900) Includes a searchable interface to the name database. NEBRASKA (alternate link) Unclaimed Property Division PO Box 94788 Lincoln, NE 68509 1-402-471-2455 Includes a searchable interface to the name database. NEVADA (alternate link) Department of Business & Industry Unclaimed Property Division 2501 East Sahara Avenue, Suite 304 Las Vegas, NV 89104 1-702-486-4140 1-800-521-0019 NEW HAMPSHIRE Abandoned Property Division Treasury Department 25 Capitol Street - Room 205 Concord, NH 03301 1-603-271-2649 Includes a searchable interface to the name database. NEW JERSEY Department of the Treasury Property Administration CN 214 Trenton, NJ 08646 1-609-984-8234 NEW MEXICO Department of Revenue & Taxation Special Tax Programs & Services PO Box 25123 Santa Fe, NM 87504-5123 1-505-827-0767 1-505-827-0769 Includes a searchable interface to the name database. NEW YORK Office of Unclaimed Funds Alfred E. Smith Building, 9th Floor Albany, NY 12236 1-518-474-4038 1-800-221-9311 NORTH CAROLINA Department of State Treasurer Escheat & Unclaimed Property 325 North Salisbury Street Raleigh, NC 27603-1385 1-919-733-6876 NORTH DAKOTA Unclaimed Property Division State Land Department PO Box 5523 Bismarck, ND 58506-5523 1-701-328-2805 1-701-224-2805 OHIO Division of Unclaimed Funds 77 South High Street Columbus, OH 43266-0545 1-614-466-4433 Includes a searchable interface to the name database. OKLAHOMA Oklahoma Tax Commission Unclaimed Property Section 2501 Lincoln Boulevard Oklahoma City, OK 73194-0010 1-405-521-4275/4273 OREGON Unclaimed Property Unit 775 Summer Street, NE Salem, OR 97310 1-503-378-3805 x283 PENNSYLVANIA Pennsylvania State Treasury Office of Unclaimed Property PO Box 1837 Harrisburg, PA 17105-1837 1-800-222-2046 Claims inquiries 1-800-379-3999 Reporting questions and Instructions Email: email@example.com Includes a search interface to the name database. RHODE ISLAND Unclaimed Property Division PO Box 1435 Providence, RI 02901-1435 1-401-277-6505 Includes a copy of the money list. SOUTH CAROLINA Office of the State Treasurer Unclaimed Property Division PO Box 11778 Columbia, SC 29211-1778 1-803-737-4771 SOUTH DAKOTA Unclaimed Property Division 500 East Capitol Avenue Pierre, SD 57501 1-605-773-3378 TENNESSEE Unclaimed Property Division Andrew Jackson Building, 9th Floor Nashville, TN 37243-0242 1-615-741-6499 TEXAS Unclaimed Property Division Texas State Comptroller's Office Box 12019 Austin, TX 78711-2019 1-512-463-6060 1-800-654-3463 (in Texas) Includes a search interface to the name database. UTAH State Treasurer's Office Unclaimed Property Division PO Box 140530 Salt Lake City, UT 84114-0530 Physical address: 168 N 1950 W Salt Lake City, UT 84116 Phone: 1-801-715-3300 Toll Free: 1-888-217-1203 Fax: 1-801-715-3309 VERMONT Abandoned Property Division State Treasurer s Office 133 State Street Montepelier, VT 05633-6200 1-802-828-2301 1-800-642-3191 Includes a searchable interface to the name database. VIRGINIA (direct link and press release) Division of Unclaimed Property Department of Treasury PO Box 2478 Richmond, VA 23218 1-804-225-2393 WASHINGTON Unclaimed Property Section Department of Revenue 1101 S. Eastside Street PO Box 448 Olympia, WA 98507 1-360-586-2736 or 1-800-435-2429 Includes a searchable interface to the name database. WEST VIRGINIA Unclaimed Property Division Office of State Treasurer Capitol Complex Charleston, WV 25305 1-800-422-7498 Includes a searchable interface to the unclaimed property files. WISCONSIN Unclaimed Property Division State Treasurer s Office PO Box 2114 Madison, WI 53701-2114 1-608-267-7977 Includes a searchable interface to the name database. WYOMING Unclaimed Property Division State Treasurer s Office 1st Floor West, Herschler Building 122 West 25th Street Cheyenne, WY 82002 1-307-777-5590 Includes a searchable interface to the name database.
Other Unclaimed Property Offices
Unclaimed Property Auctions and Stores
Canadian Bank Accounts
Swiss Bank Accounts
Australia Unclaimed Property
Other Government AuctionsYou've probably heard about government auctions, where you can buy government seized vehicles and boats for "pennies on the dollar" and other outrageous claims. The automobiles actually sell for closer to the price of a used-car (and are often bought by used car dealers). If you're interested in such government auctions, the U.S. General Services Administration publishes a guide to Federal Government Sales that provides detailed information about all federal government auctions. The guide is available from the US Government Printing Office (Washington, DC 20402, call 1-202-512-1800) for $1.75, or you can read it for free on the GSA's US Consumer Information Center.
For information about U.S. General Services Administration auctions, call 1-703-305-7814 or visit http://www.gsa.gov/.
For information about Treasury Department Auctions, call the Public Auction Line at 1-703-273-7373 or visit the Treasury Department's Auction Information Page.
Other useful resources include:
For information on sales by the U.S. Customs Service, call 1-703-351-7887 or write to EG&G Dynatrend, Inc., US Customs Service Support Division, 2300 Clarendon Blvd., Suite 705, Arlington, VA 22201.
The FDIC sells the assets of failed banks (mostly real estate). For more information, call 1-800-873-7785.
The Better Business Bureau (BBB) issued an alert on March 21, 1997, about email messages which asked the consumer to call a number in the 809 area code to get information about unclaimed money.
The BBB has also issued an alert about National Assets Recovery, a company that sent post cards to consumers nationwide asking for $14.98 for information on how to find their unclaimed money.
The BBB also issued a tips for consumers in September 1997 on Locating Unclaimed Property.
Other Sources of InformationThe National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators (NAPUA) is a professional association for state unclaimed property administrators. Their web site includes a map with links to state unclaimed property offices in the United States and Canada.
The Unclaimed Property Holders Liaison Council is an association of corporate unclaimed property holders. UPHLC focuses on simplifying reporting requirements and legislative issues.
Tracers on the WebHere's a list of tracers with web pages. Some of these tracers provide a free teaser online, which tells you whether there's money listed under your name, but they do not tell you any of the details.
Please note that I do not have a financial interest in these companies, nor am I otherwise affiliated with them. I am not responsible for the content of their web pages. I neither recommend nor endorse (nor disrecommend) the use of these firms. Caveat emptor. The sole criterion for listing them is the fact that they are tracers with web pages.
In addition to the above organizations, NUPA - Unclaimed Assets sells a 192-page book about unclaimed assets for $20. Orders may be placed over the phone at 1-800-247-6553 or online. Their web site also includes a variety of useful information.
Resources for Holders of Abandoned Property
This section lists resources for holders of abandoned property, such as tools and services for fulfilling reporting requirements.
Many states have a free software reporting program, but it is only good for one state. The following vendors supply software and/or services that produce reports for every state.
The following are not software vendors but they provide a variety of abandoned property consulting services, such as processing a company's abandoned property reporting or assisting with compliance issues.
The following advertisements have not been reviewed by the author of this site.
Suggestions and corrections are welcome, especially in regard to the addresses and phone numbers of unclaimed property and abandoned property offices, and should be sent to .