(DailyTreasure.com) – There’s a lot more unclaimed money out there than most people realize – up to $49 billion, according to SmartAsset, and some of it could legally have your name on it. Money never delivered, forgotten accounts, unclaimed refunds and more can sit waiting for you, whether you know it or not. Finding where exactly it is, however, can be a challenge.
Why Would I Have Unclaimed Money?
We’re all so busy that it’s easy to lose track of what’s rightfully yours, and there are numerous reasons you could have unclaimed money hidden away somewhere. Eight of the most common sources include:
- Financial accounts you either forgot or got locked out of. The bank could also close the account for certain reasons, such as lapsed use periods (aka a dormancy period) or an inability to identify you as the rightful owner.
- Any bank account could have made a costly clerical error to your detriment. Unless you verify your like clockwork, this is always a possibility.
- Forgotten security deposits or tax refunds that either didn’t get sent or were sent to an undeliverable address.
- Unpaid wages, pensions, or other liquidated cash benefits that didn’t get to you.
- Unclaimed insurance disbursements or class action legal settlements you forgot you were involved in (it’s easier than you think, with the internet).
- Rebates you applied for, then forgot or weren’t even aware of. Some retailers automatically send rebate information on their customers’ behalf, and not every store clerk knows or communicates this properly.
- Foreign currency owed by foreign governments (generally applies to dual citizens; but it could apply to businesses who pay customs fees or frequent travelers).
- Final paychecks from previous employers, even if you’re certain that you did receive it. They could always have made an accounting error or liquidated unused PTO and lost track of you.
Most generally, consider unclaimed cash like this: any enterprise you’ve conducted more than a single, one-and-done transaction with might have some unfinished business with you – and it could be in your favor!
Even if they tried to reconcile it, they won’t be able to contact you about it if their lose your contact or you’ve changed it. Of course, they could be unaware of it but have the data on hand to discover one of the above items applies. In any case, it’s up to you to spearhead any cash reclamation efforts.
How Do I Claim Unclaimed Cash?
The most thorough way to find unclaimed cash is to play detective with your financial history and follow up wherever there’s a possibility of unclaimed cash. Then, keep records of any new business you engage in going forward. Smaller efforts to follow up over time will become so easy, you’ll forget it was ever hard work.
For example, you could make of habit of inquiring about any undelivered refunds from the IRS during any other correspondence with them. It doesn’t hurt to contact past landlords or property management companies and ask if they have a record of any unsent security deposit payments to you. You can smooth into the conversation by requesting a good tenant recommendation letter – they’ll probably be flattered (the same goes for previous employers).
Think of any major retail purchases you’ve made, and contact them about rebate programs they might have been involved with at the time. Even if the answer’s no, they could take the opportunity to extend some kind of discount to you, because businesses are anxious to maintain repeat buyers (it’s less costly than developing new customer relationships). They might have store credit you forgot about, too
Did you have any subscription services that may owe you a prorated refund? How about any defunct bank accounts (in which case, see if they also have credit lines still open for you)? The list is endless.
Simplifying Your Unclaimed Cash Hunt
Of course, all this can be time-consuming, especially if you don’t have a clear vision of where the most likely unclaimed cash might be. Fortunately, there are now organizations, such as the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators (NAUPA), to streamline much of this process.
Using one of these services may even be more thorough than doing it all manually. Sometimes, companies send unclaimed assets to a partner company so that any assets they can’t legally control can be held in safekeeping. A company specializing in finding unclaimed cash could help you dig deeper and save you time. You never know unless you ask.
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