With all the financial transactions that go on in our economy, there are many situations that occur where a business owes money to another business or individual, but that owner cannot be located. That is called “unclaimed property.” By law companies can’t keep that money. Instead, they have to make an effort to find the owner. If they cannot, they are required to remit it to the state of the last known address of the owner, or the state of the business location (or state of incorporation) if they don’t have a previous address for the owner.
One of the most common reasons for unclaimed property occurs when someone moves. Apartment security deposits, utility deposits, business refunds, and uncashed checks are just a few examples where businesses often remit unclaimed property to a state because they can’t locate the owner that has moved.
When the property is sent to the state government as unclaimed, the amount is often shown as a liability on the books of the state in perpetuity. In other words, it never expires. You can find and claim money owed to you from a few years ago, or decades ago! You can even claim funds from a deceased relative by proving you are related (often with your birth certificate and their death certificate).
To look for this money you can try a site such as missingmoney.com to do a general search of all states. It is as easy as entering your name. Also try unclaimed.org to select specific states where you have lived or worked. This site will get you to the state website where you can search and file claims. In many cases you just need a name to do the search, as it is public record. You should do a search every year or two. Sometimes businesses fail to remit unclaimed property and they may catch up later when they do a filing.
There are other types of unclaimed funds that won’t be listed with state governments. In many cases this would be unclaimed property from the federal government and affiliate agencies. This could represent pension benefits, tax refunds, bank accounts from failed institutions, etc. A good site to search for these funds would be at usa.gov/unclaimed-money.
Give these sites a try, and you might get reunited with your money!