There's over $50 billion unclaimed in the U.S.—here's how to claim it


Alex Webb

Alex Webb

Blog author Alex Webb

Alex Webb, founder of Take Risks Be Happy, is a freelance writer and author passionate about creativity, entrepreneurship, and international travel. He has co-authored or contributed to books published by National Geographic, the Financial Times, and Skyhorse.

Published June 1, 2017 | 3 min read

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Millions of Americans are owed over $50 billion dollars—and they don’t even know it.How can so many people be owed so much money? The answer is simple: it’s complicated. From tax refunds to mortgages to payouts for the victims of scams, there are many ways to be owed money but never receive it. Lucky for you, we’ve compiled the best ways to find out if you’re owed money.

Unclaimed tax refunds

Unless you’re a freelancer or retired, odds are that a portion of your wages are automatically deducted by the IRS. Any money in excess of what you owe in taxes is then returned to you in a refund check. But sometimes things go wrong—the check is sent to your old address, or maybe you have an unusually complicated tax situation.

If you didn’t get that check, you might have money waiting for you. Visit this government website to check your IRS refund status.

Retirement accounts

Worked for a company long ago? You may have a retirement account with them—and it may have grown significantly in value. The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation is a great resource for finding out whether you have unclaimed retirement benefits. Some individuals have found accounts worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. And don’t be fooled by the name. Despite the fact that "Corporation" is in their name, it’s not a company, it’s a U.S. government agency.

Savings bonds

Tens of thousands of bond payments are returned to the Treasury Department each year. Don’t be a statistic. Check on TreasuryDirect to see if you have savings bonds in your name that are earning interest—or whether you have bonds that are no longer earning interest but have yet to be cashed. Remember, savings bonds are commonly given as gifts to children and college graduates, so you may have bonds that you have forgotten about.

Veterans benefits

Veterans are owed insurance benefits as a result of their service to the country, but sometimes not all of these benefits are accurately collected. If you are a veteran, you can see if you are owed unclaimed insurance funds by visiting the VA’s insurance site.

Banking and investment failures

If your financial institution fails, your money may still be waiting for you. Accounts with FDIC insurance are guaranteed up to $250,000, so even if the bank fails, you’ll still be owed what was deposited there. It’s also possible to get money from certain other failed financial institutions. Check the FDIC for any unclaimed money you may be owed.

Do you prefer to use credit unions? Check the National Credit Union Administration to find out if you are owed any money.

Mortgage refunds

If you had a Federal Housing Administration mortgage, you may have unclaimed money waiting for you. Find out by visiting the refund website of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

State resources to find unclaimed money

States hold the majority of unclaimed money—with over $40 billion held by states and waiting for an owner. The exact specifics of assets held varies by state, but we’ve compiled links to the official websites of all 50 states, so you can be sure that your state returns to you what you are owed.

State Guide to Unclaimed Money

Prevention is the best medicine

The only thing better than finding money you didn’t know you were owed is having that money in the first place. After you’ve checked with your state and the federal government to see whether you’re owed money, it’s time to simplify your financial life. Organize your bank accounts, retirement accounts, and taxes so you can be sure that you won’t have any missing money in the future.