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Thursday, July 8, 2010

7 Things Every American Should Know About Unclaimed Money

By Nicole Anderson

Every year 20+ billion dollars goes unclaimed in the United States. Millions of Americans are owed this money but either don't know it exists or don't know how to find it.

Here are 7 things everyone needs to know about unclaimed money:

1 - ANYONE can have money owed to him or her!

Money that ends up in the unclaimed databases can come from many places including old bank accounts, savings bonds, inheritance, payroll checks, the list goes on and on. There are approximately 200 million people who are owed unclaimed money. Oprah stated 8 out of 9 families are owed unclaimed money.

The money may be from a source you were never even aware existed like a savings bond from when you were a child or an inheritance.

The government will not look for the owners of unclaimed money. They will happily keep the money and borrow from it or earn interest on it for as long as they can. This is apparent from the fact that Microsoft, Ryan Seacrest, Reese Witherspoon, Julia Roberts, Kate Hudson and Benicio Del Toro are all owed money.

Unless you do a search, don't assume you don't have unclaimed money.

2 - Your money may be under a different name

When you do an unclaimed money search the money may be listed under a variation of your name. For example: if your name is William M Smith the money may be listed under Bill M Smith, B M Smith, W M Smith, etc.

Depending on the source of the funds and the way the name was listed on that account the money may be listed under a variation of your legal name.

The money may also be listed under the name of a co-signer on the account. If the account was not solely in your name, it might very well be under the name of the person who shared the account(s) with you.

3 - It helps to know past addresses

When you perform an unclaimed money search you enter a name and then are given a list of results that match the entered name. The results will include some or all of the following information: account number, name on account, last known address on account and amount owed. Knowing the past addresses of the person whose name you are searching is helpful in identifying which accounts actually belong to that person.

4 - You may be owed money that was reported outside your state

If you have ever lived outside your current state of residence or have done any business with any company(s) outside your state, the money may be reported in the state where the company existed.

For example: If you lived in California your whole life but had an insurance policy with a company in New York and they had no address on record, the money owed from the policy would be listed in the New York state database not California.

Inheritance is often reported in the state of residence for the deceased, since it is unclaimed chances are the heir's address is unknown.

Most states have their own searchable database, but remember, searching your own state is not enough.

5 - Make sure to complete all steps of the claims process

The claims process will vary depending on the type of account. Typically driver's license, social security or birth certificate are required. If you are an heir additional paperwork such as death certificate and other executor documents may be required.

If you search a good quality database, they will provide you the claim instructions. Make sure to include all information and documentation requested. If you omit forms or required data your claim may not be processed and they will send a request for more information which will delay receipt of your money.

6 - You can search for family and friends

Databases allow you to search multiple names. You can search the names of your family and close friends to see if they are owed money. Since most people are unaware this money is sitting around, most have not searched their name to see how much is owed to them.

While researching for this article I found $400 owed to my mom from 2 different accounts!

7 - Unclaimed tax refunds will not be found

Tax refunds owed from prior tax years will not be in the databases, UNLESS you have filed for the year(s) you are owed money. You have up to 3 years to submit for a tax refund. After that time expires you will no longer be able to claim your tax refund. That means 2003-2005 taxes can be filed for a tax refund but entitlement to 2002 tax refunds expired on April 17, 2006.

So, if you are owed money from 2003-2005 tax years make sure to file your taxes for those years to claim your tax refund.

Nicole Anderson offers more information about unclaimed money at Cash Unclaimed’s database covers all state and federal databases, has Name Match technology, which will search variations of your name to ensure nothing is overlooked, and offers unlimited name searches to members. Click on for a free money search and locate your missing money today!

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