- There are billions of dollars being held by states, waiting to be claimed.
- No matter what someone tells you, there's never any reason to pay a third party to claim your property.
It took me less than two minutes to figure out that I have money waiting to be claimed from four different sources.
Inflation is nasty business. We pay more for everyday items, and frankly, can use every dollar at our disposal. While it's no guarantee of wealth, the website MissingMoney.com may just put a little extra back into many of our bank accounts.
Billions of dollars
There are billions of dollars worth of unclaimed property in the U.S. It comes from bank accounts, dividend checks, life insurance policies, abandoned safe deposit boxes, utility companies, and other sources that owners lose track of.
Because my husband and I have moved so often, I figured I would be a great test subject. After all, if anyone allowed a few dollars here and there to fall through the cracks in the midst of a busy move, it would be me. I tried out MissingMoney.com and was not at all surprised to learn that I have money waiting to be claimed from four different sources – two from utility providers in different states and two from insurance companies. None of the claims exceed $100, but still, the money is mine.
Inflation must be eating into scammers' profits, because the number of cons being pulled has been multiplying lately. A few years ago, news outlets reported on the president of the Memphis Better Business Bureau (BBB) nearly falling for a missing property scam. This gentleman received a letter from someone claiming to be an attorney in Canada. According to this "attorney," the gentleman's uncle had died, leaving him $10.6 million.
The BBB president did have an uncle by the name mentioned, although his uncle dropped out of the family 15 years earlier. Through the years, the family assumed the uncle really had died. As official as the letterhead appeared, the BBB president checked the attorney's website. It too looked legitimate, although it had only been created a few months earlier.
Digging even deeper, the man contacted the Canadian BBB, learning that no such attorney existed in Canada. Had he not been so well trained, it is easy to see how he might have fallen for the scam.
Legitimacy is everything
There are many companies that promise to locate lost money -- for a fee. The truth is, you do not ever have to pay someone to find lost assets. Anything a company claims it will do for you is just as easily achieved on your own.
So the first thing I did when I went looking for my money was to make sure that MissingMoney.com is not another scam. I checked them out every way I knew to make sure they were legit. MissingMoney.com is a clearinghouse of sorts, compiling records from participating states. To date, 39 states and the District of Columbia share data with MissingMoney.com.
One thing I like about the site is that it provides links to the missing money websites in each of the states that participate.
Straight to the state
If you're wondering what riches await you, you also have the option of searching your state's unclaimed property site. The confusing bit is that unclaimed property may be handled by the department of revenue, state treasurer's office, or department of budget and finance.
I've found that the easiest way to see what I might have left behind in each state we've lived in is to type "unclaimed property" followed by the name of the state. Be careful to check that you've actually landed on an official state page before offering any information, like your name or address.
If finances are tight, now might be a good time to see if you have any money out there waiting to be claimed.
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