01Check With the IRS—They May Owe You Money
Each year thousands of income tax refund checks are returned to the IRS as undeliverable because the taxpayer has moved, changed his or her name, or simply because the check has an incomplete or improper address. Right now, thousands of Americans are missing money that is legally owed to them. Contact the IRS to track down any lost tax refunds or unclaimed money.
If you haven't filed a tax return for a prior year and you have a refund coming to you, the IRS does not penalize you for filing late returns if you don't owe any taxes. However, you have only three years to claim any outstanding refund before the money becomes the property of the U.S. Treasury.
02Track Down Missing State Tax Refunds
Just like federal tax refunds, state tax refunds often don't find their intended recipients because of name changes, moves, or an undeliverable address. Check the website unclaimed.org, which provides a way for you to search for such unclaimed money by clicking on a state, territory, or province from the map or drop box below. To find all your potentially lost money, be sure to search in every state where you have had an address.
03Look for Unclaimed Retirement Benefits
Sometimes people change jobs, forgetting about a small balance in an old employer retirement plan. On occasion, that balance grows into a nice surprise waiting for them, if they take the time to track it down. The National Registry of Unclaimed Retirement Benefits can help; it is a non-profit, free resource and organization devoted to helping former employees locate lost or forgotten benefits. This site can also be useful for executors of estates who are trying to track down unclaimed money on behalf of a loved one or deceased person.
04Check for Former Pension Plans
If you worked for a company that had a pension plan that failed, it might be that the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation owes you money. The PBGC insures pension benefits. It could take some digging to find it, but wouldn't it be worth your time to dig around for lost money? Start your search for old pensions at Find a Trusted Pension Plan.
05Find Missing Money Left in Old Bank Accounts
You may have unclaimed funds in old bank accounts, from insurance premium refunds owed to you, utility deposits, dividend payments, escrow accounts, or because of wages owed to you by a former employer. The site missingmoney.com provides a place to look for many of these types of missing funds all at once. (I got over $200 back from an old insurance policy 10 years in arrears once. I had moved out of state so the refund check never got to me.)
06Hunt for Treasury Funds
The Treasury Department says that each year 25,000 payments of various types are returned as undeliverable. It also has a record of billions of dollars of savings bonds that no longer pay interest, and yet the bond owner has not cashed in the bond. If you still have these savings bonds, you'll want to cash them in or reinvest them so your money can start working for you again. With Treasury Hunt, you can see if your bonds are still paying interest and search for any other unclaimed sources of money from the Treasury.
07Look for Unpaid Life Insurance Payouts
Life insurance benefits go unclaimed more often than you might think. If you owned a life insurance policy that demutualized they may owe you cash or stock; if you had a relative pass away, there might be unclaimed life insurance benefits out there for you. In either case, the place to start your search is at demutualization-claims.com.
7 Places to Look for Unclaimed Money
How does money go unclaimed? Most frequently, people move, and a refund check or account statement is no longer deliverable. Because of this, millions of dollars are waiting to be claimed in old bank accounts, pension plans, forgotten 401(k) plans, and at the IRS due to unfiled taxes or undeliverable tax refunds. Some of it might be yours. To find any lost money for yourself, you can start by checking some of the most likely places.