A few weeks back, my friend, Kim, posted a link on Facebook that really got me charged. No, it wasn’t about politics. It was a link to an unclaimed property website. It’s not a new concept to me at all. In fact, when I worked for the City of Palmdale, I actually had to handle some of these. Sometimes it was the result of someone not cashing a check that was written to them from the City. In other cases, it may have been a refundable deposit for utilizing a park facility. Regardless of the reason for the unclaimed funds, certain protocols needed to be followed including making a public notice in the local newspaper that the funds were available. I remember thinking to myself, “How could anyone NOT know they were missing money?” We religiously keep track of our finances and even recently caught a fraudulent charge to our bank account. If someone owed me money, you can bet that I would know and regularly remind them.
Or so I thought…
Yes, that check has my name on it. In order to understand how that came about, you need to hear a story. About a decade ago, I discovered my cousin’s name on a list of unclaimed funds in the newspaper. I reached out to her about it and explained that it was totally legit. She received the money then used it to treat our family to dinner at a steakhouse. I didn’t think about it again until the previously mentioned comment and link showed up in my feed on Facebook. After my friend posted about it, I decided it would be fun to see if I knew anyone on the list. It felt like playing Santa when I was able to share the news to my cousin and I wanted to do that again.
So I started with myself and found a lot of people who shared my name. As you can see from the check I posted above, I had a claim! Obviously it wasn’t something that I had been tracking. It was from a rebate program that was connected to a grocery store card. When I stopped shopping at that particular store, I totally forgot about it! I needed to send a copy of my driver’s license and some other documents to confirm that I am the person who was the rightful owner of the money and in less than two weeks, I had the check in hand! Scott also had a small claim and filed for it as well. Neither were substantial amounts, but it’s still cool. And surprising.
Any time of year is a good time to discover there’s money floating in the abyss that is rightfully yours. If you’re curious about how to you can determine if you’re on the list, here are a few tips. First, you can review the overall unclaimed property policy on USA.gov. Searching various websites is free so don’t feel like you need to pay anyone to “find” your money.
I’m a skeptic about giving out my personal information so for my own benefit, I search the aggregator sites like National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators, Missing Money and Find My Funds. Then if I find something, I go directly to the state websites (Iowa, California) to submit my personal information. The easiest way to navigate to your state’s specific website is to go to Unclaimed.org and click “Find and Claim”. It loads a map of the United States and you simply select your state.
It doesn’t take much time to search, but remember to do variations of your name and all the places you’ve lived. You never know what you might find! When you’ve finished with your own, check on your family members and share the news if you discover they’re entitled as well. Maybe they’ll take you out for steak dinner with the money.
Have you ever found money before?