1 in 10 People in the U.S. Have Unclaimed Property. Here's How to Find Out if You're Owed Money

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  • You may have unclaimed property or funds that are owed to you.
  • Some examples of unclaimed property are refunds, overpayments, and unclaimed security deposits.
  • Find out if you have money that needs to be returned to you by doing a simple online search.

You may have abandoned property or money that needs to be returned to you.

Everyone could use a little more money. Even a few extra bucks could help you better prioritize your personal finance goals, like paying off debt or saving more money in your emergency fund. If money has been tight lately, you may want to check to see if you have any unclaimed property. Luckily, it's an easy process to collect what you're owed. Here's what you need to know.

The National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators, an organization run by the National Association of State Treasurers, notes that one in 10 Americans have unclaimed property. That's over 33 million people -- and you could be one of them.

Some Americans are owed small amounts of money, while others are owed much more. Unclaimed property is money that should be returned to you, so it's worth checking to see if you have unclaimed funds.

What is unclaimed property?

So, what is unclaimed property, and what are some examples of it?

Unclaimed property is abandoned property within financial institutions in which there has been no activity generated for a period of one year or more, according to the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators.

After a designated amount of time, called the dormancy period, law dictates that the property must be turned over to the state. The exact amount of time can vary by state and property type. Each state has a claims process in place so consumers can get their funds.

Here's a non-exhaustive list of examples of unclaimed property:

  • Checking or savings accounts
  • Refunds
  • Trust distributions
  • Utility security deposits
  • Customer overpayments
  • Contents of safety deposit boxes
  • Uncashed payroll checks
  • Unredeemed money orders
  • Unclaimed security deposits

You may have abandoned property you forgot about or didn't even know existed.

How to see if you have unclaimed property

If you have unclaimed property, you should go through the claims process so you can collect it. But first, you'll need to check to see if you have any abandoned property.

The National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators makes it easy to find your state's unclaimed property program at Unclaimed.org. After selecting your state, you'll be directed to your state's program.

Your state will likely provide an online search tool where you can search by name to see if you have unclaimed property. If you have money owed, you can begin the claims process. Some states may handle the process online, while others may require offline paperwork.

Note: Be sure to verify that you're on an official state website before filling out any forms or making an unclaimed property claim.

Every extra dollar counts

If you're owed money, don't skip out on claiming it. The claims process will likely be relatively easy and worthwhile. Even a small amount of money owed can make a difference and improve your financial situation. What could you do with $50, $100, or $300 that you didn't know you had?

Do you have money coming your way? We recommend stashing some of those funds in a savings account for your future financial needs. You can earn interest as you let your money sit. Plus, it'll be helpful to have money set aside for when you need it most.

For additional tips related to important money matters, check out our personal finance resources.

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