At Billshark, as you know, we’re all about money. There’s a certain satisfaction that comes with earning money, but we believe that “found” money is even better. That’s the kind of money you’ll get when you sign up to let us lower your bills.
But there’s another kind of found money that many people are unaware of and it amounts to billions of dollars just waiting to be claimed. From back wages to old pensions to tax refunds, there is a huge amount of money squirreled away in banks, credit unions, and life insurance companies, not to mention the states and the federal government.
Of course, as with most things in this world, when it comes to money there’s often a catch. Unearthing unclaimed money will take some time, both in the searching and in awaiting a response. And some people have reported receiving as little as $5 from a claim they’ve discovered. Others, however, have received thousands of dollars. So it might be worth a little time and effort on your part to seek out some of this hidden money.
One thing you should not do is pay someone else to search for you. Even worse, don’t fall for the scammers who pretend to be from the government and offer to send you unclaimed money for a fee. The type of unclaimed money we’re discussing here is yours for free, except for the time and effort you’ll need to expend to get it. USA.gov warns that no government agency will contact you about unclaimed money or assets. This includes mail, email, phone calls, texts, or any other method of contact, so beware of such overtures.
Although there is no single government agency empowered to help you look for unclaimed money, USA.gov suggests the following ways to begin.
1. Search for unclaimed money and property in states where you have lived.
Start with your current state, then check every state where you’ve ever lived. USA.gov has an interactive map for every state which can show you how to search for money in each of them. You can get similar information from the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators (NAUPA) an affiliate of the National Association of State Treasurers, or its authorized affiliate, MissingMoney.com, which will allow you to search multiple states at once. All searches are free and confidential.
2. Check for unclaimed funds from bank failures or unclaimed deposits from credit union closures.
USA.gov has links to the search pages of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), and the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) to search for unclaimed funds.
3. Search for unclaimed or undelivered tax refunds or a refund from an FHA-insured mortgage.
If you had an FHA-insured mortgage in the past, you may be eligible for a refund from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). To search the HUD database, you will need your FHA case number (three digits, a dash, then six more numbers).
4. Check for unclaimed back wages, pension money, or life insurance funds.
For back wages, go to the U.S. Department of Labor’s (DOL’s) website and search its Workers Owed Wages” database. For pension money from failed pension funds, check the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC). For VA life insurance funds, search the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) for life insurance funds that are owed to some current or former policyholders or their beneficiaries (this does not include funds from Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance [SGLI] or Veterans’ Group Life Insurance [VGLI] policies from 1965 to the present).
5. Check for unclaimed refunds from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).
Every year the IRS has millions of dollars in tax refunds that go unclaimed, because they were undeliverable. If you were expecting a refund and didn’t receive one, you can either check the IRS’ Where’s My Refund page, or call your local office.
USA.gov also advises that you may eligible for a federal tax refund even if you weren’t required to file a return for a given year. If federal taxes were withheld from your pay and/or you qualify for the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), you may still be able to collect a refund if you file a return within three years of that year’s filing deadline.
For information about your state tax refund check, contact your state revenue department by going through your state’s website.
When you submit inquiries to these various websites, it can take as long as eight to ten weeks for a response. And of course, that doesn’t include the time it takes to perform your searches on each of them. And as mentioned above, you may receive only a few dollars, or even nothing. But it could also be worth a lot of money to conduct your own personal treasure hunt. Most unclaimed property that is owed to Americans has no statute of limitations attached, so you can claim it even years after it went missing.
And for a free search that could yield hundreds or thousands of dollars in savings on your bills, be sure to contact Billshark and let us do the hunting.