1 out of every 10 Americans has unclaimed money—how here’s to track down your misplaced or forgotten cash.
Because millions of Americans have been financially drained by the coronavirus outbreak, this is an excellent moment to look for any spare cash.
We’re not talking about rummaging through the couch cushions for loose change or expecting to find $20 in your coat pocket by chance. Looking online can help you locate money you may have forgotten about. There’s a good chance there’s some cash with your name on it.
According to the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators, one out of every ten Americans has unclaimed property or money (NAUPA). This money comes from monies located in banks, financial institutions, or corporations that have been given over to the state since the owner hasn’t communicated with them in over a year.
A forgotten checking or savings account, uncashed paychecks, stocks, security deposits, customer overpayments, unredeemed gift cards, or tax returns from the IRS are the most common culprits.
Select delves more into how to recover money owing to you and how to cash in on money you’ve earned but may have forgotten about in the sections below.
How to Recover Money That Has Been Misplaced
During this period, a neglected savings account or a misplaced paycheck might be a lifeline for many people. Fortunately, there are reputable websites that can assist you in your search for these cash windfalls.
To begin, go to NAUPA’s Unclaimed.org, which is a national network that collects records from all 50 states. There are links to each state’s official unclaimed property program from there. Because they are all verified government resources, you should use NAUPA-provided websites rather than a general search engine.
You’ll be sent to the state’s official website when you click on it. If you officially changed your last name, search for your unclaimed money using both your current and maiden names. You might also wish to try various search queries, such as using your first name’s first initial plus your entire last name.
Because unclaimed property is reported to the state where the business or organization is situated, it’s typical to lose money in multiple locations, especially if you’ve moved between states.
NAUPA recommends using MissingMoney.com, a free website they approve, to search numerous states at once. Make a list of all the states where you’ve lived and worked.
How to Claim Unclaimed Money: Each state has its unique procedure for claiming unclaimed funds, but it should be very simple. You should bring proof of ownership of whatever you’re claiming, such as a pay stub, utility bill, or your Social Security number.
You’ll also need identification, such as a copy of your driver’s license or passport. According to the NAUPA website, processing timelines vary by state, but some can take as little as 30 days.
Other government databases that can be searched include:
For any undeliverable tax refunds, go to the IRS website.
For unclaimed pension funds, contact the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation.
Unclaimed savings bonds, registered Treasury notes, and registered Treasury bonds are being sought by the US Treasury.
How to reclaim money that has been forgotten
While you may not have lost money in a forgotten bank account, there’s a good possibility you have some money sitting around that you might use right now.
The first thing to consider is your credit card rewards. If you have a cash-back credit card in your wallet and use it frequently, keep in mind that you’ve earned money that could come in handy.
Cardholders can redeem cash back for checks or statement credits once they’ve earned $25 with the Citi® Double Cash Card, which offers 2% cash back: 1% on all eligible purchases and an additional 1% when you settle your credit card bill.
Select discovered that, assuming cards optimize their rewards potential, the average consumer can earn $437 in cash back after just one year and $2,185 after five years.
However, it isn’t simply cash-back cards that are useful right now. You can use your travel credit card points on non-travel options like cash back or merchandise now that travel is arguably on pause for a long time. (It’s worth noting that the redemption rate is likely to be lower than if the points were used for travel.)
If you hold the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card or the Chase Sapphire Reserve®, for example, you may use your Ultimate Rewards® points for Amazon.com purchases or as cash back in the form of a statement credit or a direct deposit into your bank or savings account.
And, as Americans’ buying habits changed as a result of the epidemic, credit card companies responded by adjusting their rewards programs, including changes to travel credit, through the end of the year. Users of the Citi Prestige® Card can use their $250 yearly travel credit at supermarkets and restaurants to make qualified purchases.
Money transfer programs like Venmo and PayPal are another area to look for lost dollars. These applications are wonderful for dividing payments and splitting takeout bills, but it’s also a good idea to deposit the money into your bank account.
While you’re quarantined at home, take advantage of the opportunity to do some financial “spring cleaning” and make sure none of your banking apps have money in them.
Finally, don’t forget about those unused gift cards that are piling up in your wallet. CBS News reported earlier this year that as much as $3 billion in gift cards will go unredeemed this year alone, based on estimates from Mercator Advisory Group.
Consider cashing in an old gift card for cash if you don’t like the store or simply forgot about it. Card exchange companies like Cardpool.com let you trade or sell real and electronic gift cards for up to 88 percent of their face value.
Every dollar matters to the typical consumer as the economy battles to recover.
Spend some time looking for unclaimed money on websites like Unclaimed.org and MissingMoney.com if you’re short on cash right now or worried about greater financial difficulty in the coming months.
Also, keep in mind what’s already in your wallet, such as your credit cards. You’ve worked hard for your prizes, and now is the time to cash them in.
CNBC independently gathered information regarding the Citi Prestige® Card, which was not reviewed or supplied by the card’s issuer prior to publication.
Note from the Editors: The opinions, analyses, reviews, and recommendations stated in this article are solely those of the Select editorial team and have not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any third party.