Who doesn’t like extra surprise cash? Your state may send you money for different reasons if it is holding on to something of yours. It is a nice surprise, especially when you have been waiting for a long time for your tax refund.

If you have ever failed to collect money owed to you, you may be entitled to unclaimed money or unclaimed property. But how can your government keep money that is legitimately yours? Here is what you should know.

What is Unclaimed Money or Property?

Have you ever thought of a paycheck you forgot to pick up? Or maybe the utility deposit that you never got back? Those are examples of the money that a business or a government office could owe you. This money eventually ends up in state-run unclaimed property offices. The money remains unclaimed because no one tells you it is there; that is why you should look for it on a regular basis.

Unclaimed money or unclaimed property is basically any account or property you have in financial institutions or companies that have been inactive for a year or more.

States have the authority to keep uncashed checks, stocks, bonds, or the contents of a safety deposit box. And you have the right to check for that money and claim it for free. Some state governments, such as New York, promote the news on their websites.

The process of determining if you have unearned money takes roughly 2 minutes, and it only takes a few minutes more to claim it. And once the state gives you what you are owed, you will have additional money to spend or save.

Types of Unclaimed Money

There are various forms of unclaimed money, so it is not an all-or-nothing situation for you. In fact, many people forget that they have not been active on their financial properties or accounts for a long time. If you frequently forget where you put your keys or phone, you are more than likely one of the aforementioned many. Your unclaimed money can be:

  • Money orders and gift vouchers that have not been redeemed
  • Deposits for security
  • Uncashed payroll checks
  • Customer overpayments
  • Tax returns and refunds
  • Checking or savings accounts
  • Certificates of deposits (CDs)
  • Traveler’s checks
  • Trust distributions
  • Stocks
  • Safe deposit boxes
  • Insurance premiums
  • Annuities
  • Dividends

#1 Unclaimed Money in Your State

When businesses are unable to reach out to the owner, they submit money to state-run unclaimed property offices. Those unclaimed funds come frequently from your state government, bank accounts, or insurance policies. In order to find out if your state owes you any money, you should start your hunt by contacting your state’s unclaimed property office.

#2 Unclaimed Money From Your Employer 

No, your ex-boss did not take advantage of you, even if you think they despise you. There are two types of unclaimed money from employers: unpaid salaries and pensions from former jobs. If your employer had violated any labor laws, the Department of Labor (DOL) has the authority to collect your back wages.

As for previous job pensions, you may be able to claim pensions from companies that went out of business or terminated a structured pension plan. In other words, if your employer went out of business or terminated their pension plan, you may be able to cash out.

#3 Unclaimed Money From Insurance

In general, there are 2 types of insurance funds with unclaimed insurance money: VA Life Insurance Funds and FHA-Insurance Refunds.

Our courageous veterans can find unclaimed insurance funds in the Veterans Affairs (VA) database. You may have funds from the VA if you are currently or were formerly insured, or if you are a beneficiary. Nonetheless, bear in mind that the VA database does not include funds from Service-Members’ Group Life Insurance (SGLI) or Veterans’ Group Life Insurance (VGLI) plans from 1965 until today.

Regarding Federal Housing Administration or FHA-Insurance Refunds, you may be eligible for a refund if you have an FHA-insured mortgage. These refunds are available thanks to the efforts of the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

#4 Tax Refunds

It is quite normal for you to file your taxes and realize that you are entitled to a tax refund. If you have not claimed your tax refund or it has not been issued, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) may owe you money.

#5 Unclaimed Money From Investments and Banking

If you once decided to take the risk of investing all of your savings, but it did not work out, there might still be some light at the end of the tunnel. There is a chance that the risk you took will save you right now. You could be one of those who benefit from a failed investment.

Unclaimed money from banking and investments comes in 3 different types;

  • The first type is through bank failures. It is possible for you to have some money to claim if a financial institution fails. In case you wish to know which financial institutions have failed, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) has a list.
  • The second one is over credit union failures. It is where you may find unclaimed deposits from credit unions that no longer exist. Also, The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) provides a list of enforcement cases in which an individual or entity owes money to its investors.
  • The last type is savings bonds. If you had a savings bond that no longer earns interest, there may be unclaimed funds waiting for you. TreasuryHunt.gov can help you locate your old, uncashed savings bond.

#6 Unclaimed Money from a Bankruptcy

The concept of unclaimed money after bankruptcy is self-explanatory. A bankruptcy creditor (you) is someone who demands money from a business owner who has declared bankruptcy. There are various instances where money due to creditors goes unclaimed or where the bankruptcy court does not distribute the funds, keeping it unclaimed.

#7 International Unclaimed Money

Unclaimed international money is easy to get. This means that U.S. citizens can find money that other governments owe them in the event of an American citizen’s property loss.

#8 Undelivered Federal Tax Refund Checks

If you moved without notifying the IRS or the United States Postal Service (USPS), then you may have left your refund check behind. The IRS holds the returns in a secure location until you claim them.

In case you have not received your federal tax refund, you should visit the IRS’s Where’s My Refund page. The website will help you with everything you need to know about your tax refund.

However, you may be eligible for a federal tax refund even if you did not file a return. Your refund is money that has gone unclaimed. This only applies if federal taxes are deducted from your paycheck or if you qualify for the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). It is possible that your wages were less than the filing criteria, which is why you did not file a tax return. Nevertheless, you can still file a return within 3 years to get your refund.

How Can I Find Out If my State Owes Me Money?

To see if a state is holding financial assets that you need to claim, The National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators provides links to official websites where you can search for unclaimed property by each state, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam, and the US Virgin Islands.

First, go to Unclaimed.org and select your state or province, or find your state on the map. From there, you will be redirected to the state’s unclaimed property website. Then, you may need to click on a link such as “Search for Unclaimed Property” (California) or “Get Started” (Texas), or the search box may be on the first page (Utah).

Next, you should enter your information. The page may ask you to provide your first and last name, middle initial, and city. Your last name will almost certainly be necessary, but you can narrow or broaden the results by using or skipping the suggested entries.

Another cool search tool is the Missing Money website, which is supported by NAUPA. It allows you to search across 39 states at once. Yet, it is important to note that it is missing 11 states:

  1. California,
  2. Connecticut,
  3. Delaware,
  4. Georgia,
  5. Hawaii,
  6. Kansas,
  7. Oregon,
  8. New Jersey,
  9. Pennsylvania,
  10. Washington,
  11. Wyoming.

According to Missing Money, you can find your unclaimed property through the database, as well as the contact information for officials in your state who are responsible for your unclaimed property.

FindMyFunds is another website that allows you to search throughout 25 states and the District of Columbia at the same time. It has direct links to the official unclaimed property sites for states that do not appear in its results.


In summary, unclaimed money is not free money or a grant. It is actually money you have paid for some reason and never had benefit from. So, if you have any financial accounts or properties that have been dormant for a year or more, go check for them in your state. It is considered unclaimed money once it is turned over to the state.

There are multiple types of unclaimed property, whether it is due to unsuccessful investments, bankruptcy, or tax returns that you failed to follow through on. You can search the national database or visit official state government websites to see whether you have unclaimed money.

You will receive your unclaimed money in the form of a check. As you fill out your claim form, it is important to check to see if your state accepts online claim forms. It is either that, or you can send it by mail. Once you get your money back, make sure to use it wisely this time.