Published in: Banks | April 28, 2020

5 Places You Might Have Unclaimed Money Waiting for You

By:  Kailey Hagen

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You're unlikely to ever turn down extra money, and the financial hardships caused by the novel coronavirus pandemic mean you could probably really use an influx of cash right now. Unemployment funds and your stimulus check may cover some expenses, and you may qualify for hardship assistance programs as well. But those might not be your only sources of extra cash.

No, I'm not talking about a side hustle. You might have unclaimed money that's already yours -- no questions asked. Here are a few places you may want to check for extra cash.

1. Old tax refunds

You probably already know you can (and should) file a tax return if you're expecting a refund this year because you can use that extra cash to cover your living expenses. But what few people realize is that you can also file a tax return for prior years. You can do this if you failed to do so or weren't required to because you earned less than the standard deduction for your tax filing status that year.

This is worth considering if you believe you qualified for refundable tax credits, like the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) or the Child Tax Credit. These credits can reduce your tax bill below zero, and if this happens, that extra comes back to you as a refund. You won't be penalized for filing your tax return late if you're owed a refund, but you only have three years to claim it before the U.S. Treasury does. 

You can use the IRS's Where's My Refund? tool to track down refunds you were expecting but never received. You can also check with your state's Department of Revenue if you believe you may have old state tax refunds waiting for you.

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2. Old bank accounts

You'd usually remove all your money when you close a bank account, but there are times when some gets left behind. You might forget about an old certificate of deposit (CD) account you opened many years ago, for example. Or you might move to the other side of the country and forget about a bank account you opened in your old state. Or your old insurance company might issue you a refund after you cancel your policy and accidentally send it to your old bank account. 

MissingMoney.com is a free website that can help you track down any old financial accounts you may have forgotten about. The service is free to use. Just enter your name and see if any results come up. If you've ever changed your name, you may want to check both names to make sure you're not missing anything. If you find a match, contact the appropriate state's unclaimed property agency to get your money back.

3. U.S. Treasury savings bonds

Some U.S. Treasury savings bonds take 30 or more years to mature. That's a long time, and it's very possible to forget you ever purchased the bond in the first place. The U.S. Treasury created Treasury Hunt to help people track down and claim these lost savings bonds. If you find something, Treasury Hunt should give you advice on how to claim these funds.

4. Unpaid wages

There's a chance that the Department of Labor Wages and Hour Division is holding onto some cash for you. It might be that a past employer failed to pay some money it owed you, or you moved and your last paycheck or two never made it to your new address. You can use the Workers Owed Wages search tool to figure out if one of your former employers still owes you any money. But just like the old tax refunds, you only have three years to claim your unpaid wages or the money becomes the property of the U.S. Treasury instead.

5. Life insurance policies

If a loved one who has passed on had a life insurance policy that named you as a beneficiary, you could be entitled to some or all of that policy's benefits. Check with the executor of your loved one's estate or look for any documents among the deceased's possessions that might indicate which company they had the policy with. 

Tracking the company down may be tricky if its name has changed since the policy was purchased. Do some research online to see if you can find the new name or contact the insurance department in the state where the company was last known to be located.

This isn't an exhaustive list and there's no guarantee you will find unclaimed money in any of the places here. But it only takes a few minutes of your time to check. If you do find funds that are owed to you, it could prove to be a few minutes well spent.

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