The government is holding billions of dollars — just stick your name into this website, and find out if some of it is yours!
Today is National Unclaimed Property Day... and you might be owed money you didn't even know you had.
According to the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators, one in ten Americans — that's 33 million people — has money sitting in an account, just waiting to be claimed... and it's very, very easy to check if you do. And it's free!
Every year, millions of Americans "forget" about money they own: checking and savings accounts, wages they are owed, security deposits on apartments, refunds, overpayments, uncashed dividends, uncashed checks, stocks, insurance benefits, even safe deposit box contents.
By law, a business must make effort to return it to its rightful owner; but if there is no contact or activity within a year to five years, they must turn it over to the state government.
Every state in the US has an Unclaimed Property Division, whose job it is is to safeguard the cash until it is reclaimed.
In California for example, it falls on the State Controller; all you have to do to see if you are owed money is enter your name HERE. (it's not a scam by the way!).
You might be owed a couple of cents from an insurance refund... or you could be owed a lot, lot more.
The amount of money sitting in limbo is quite staggering: you can download an Excel sheet of every single Californian owed money (including their last known address, and what the money is owed for), and the file is almost 3GB. Many presumably oblivious people are individually owed thousands of dollars, and even hundreds of thousands of dollars.
In California, the largest unclaimed sum is $5,279,790 — all of it apparently in State Farm insurance overage refund checks.
The largest sum that could belong to a single person is $3,403,262... so if you had an uncle named William H Braun or Lindenmeyer Stratton Clarence who lived in Toluca Lake, you might want to look into it.
Obviously, with money sitting there waiting to be claimed, there are going to be fraudulent attempts.
"It's human nature," California State Controller press officer Jennifer Hanson told TooFab. "If there's money to be had, someone will always try claim it." Luckily, she affirmed, they have a crack team dedicated to making sure the John Smith making a claim is the John Smith, and not just any old John Smith.
In total, the California State Controller is currently holding on to $11.2billion, waiting to be claimed.
Last year it sent 1.5million notices, and managed to reunite 535,342 properties valued at $331 million with their rightful owners — an average of $906,849 per day — yet this is still only a tiny fraction of what remains unclaimed.
NAUPA President Kathleen Lobell encouraged everyone on Tuesday — the second annual National Unclaimed Property Day — to not just search your own name, but your friends and family: "If 1 in 10 people in the U.S. have unclaimed property, then you are bound to know many of them," she said.
California's State Controller Betty T. Yee added: "NAUPA makes the great point that it only takes 30 seconds to search for unclaimed property."
"In California, we work hard to ensure businesses do not keep funds that belong to past customers, and we continue to improve our secure technology to make it easier to reunite rightful owners with their property. Visit claimit.ca.gov to see if we are safeguarding your funds."
In Texas, where the Comptroller also takes an active approach in reuniting people with their forgotten money, $3 billion has been returned to its rightful owners since the Unclaimed Property program was launched in 1962. And they still have another $7billion waiting to hand out.
"I am proud to have returned nearly $2 billion dollars to Texans since becoming Comptroller, and we are continually looking for new ways to return even more," Glenn Hegar said in a statement Tuesday.
"This effort is part of my continued commitment to focus on customer service and provide taxpayers with transparent and accountable government. The money belongs to the people of Texas, and I encourage everyone to visit ClaimItTexas.org to see if the state is holding some of their unclaimed property."
In the last fiscal year, the combined Unclaimed Property Divisions across all states returned $2.87billion to unwitting Americans, with the average claim amounting to $1,609.95
Find your state's unclaimed property division HERE.