7 Places to Look for Unclaimed Money

Check With the IRS—They May Owe You Money

Businessman searching for money with telescope
Fanatic Studio/Getty Images

How does money go missing? 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 undeliverable tax refunds. Some of it might be yours. How do you find this lost money? Let's start by checking with the IRS.

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. 

Track Down Missing State Tax Refunds

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Check all states where you filed tax returns to claim any missing refunds. Jon Schulte / Getty Images

Just like federal tax refundsstate tax refunds often don't find their intended recipients because of name changes, moves, or an undeliverable address. There is a 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 lived.

Look for Unclaimed Retirement Benefits

Attractive young businesswomen using laptop
Helen King / Getty Images

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—an 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.

Check for Former Pension Plans

Investor checking performance of financial portfolio online whilst reviewing investment statement
Rafe Swan / Getty Images

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 Trusteed Pension Plan.

Find Missing Money Left in Old Bank Accounts

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The bank may be holding your funds still. Peter Dazeley / Stone / Getty Images

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.)

Hunt for Treasury Funds

Savings Bonds
Treasury bonds do not expire, find your missing ones now. DianaHaronis/MomentOpen/GettyImages

The Treasury department says that each year 25,000 payments are returned as undeliverable. They also have a record of billions of dollars of savings bonds that no longer pay interest, and yet the bond owner has not turned the bond in. 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. 

Look for Unpaid Life Insurance Payouts

Man using the computer to look up unclaimed life insurance from a passed relative
You never know who may have named you a beneficiary. Paul Sutherland / Digital Vision / Getty Images

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. In either case, the place to start your search is at demutualization-claims.com