Lost and Found: How to Claim Your Share of Unclaimed Government Money

Lost and Found: How to Claim Your Share of Unclaimed Government Money

Zac Duvernet
May. 3, 2023 | 6 Min Read

Do you remember the last time you found money on the ground? It's like winning a mini lottery and can brighten anyone's day. Earning a little bit of extra cash with as little effort as bending over is something I'm sure we all wish we could do more often and thankfully there may be a way. Did you know that according to the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators (NAUPA), there is over $42 billion in unclaimed property waiting to be claimed by its rightful owners? This money comes from a variety of sources, including abandoned bank accounts, uncashed paychecks, forgotten security deposits, and more. If you're wondering whether you might have unclaimed money waiting for you, read on to learn how to find and claim it.

What is Unclaimed Money?

Unclaimed money is any financial asset that has been abandoned by its owner for a certain period of time, typically between two and five years. This can include bank accounts, stocks, bonds, mutual funds, insurance policies, and more. When an asset is considered unclaimed, it is turned over to the state or federal government to hold onto until the rightful owner can claim it.

Why Does Unclaimed Money Exist?

There are many reasons why people might have unclaimed money waiting for them. Some common reasons include:

  • Moving without updating contact information: If you move and fail to update your address with your bank or other financial institution, they may not be able to locate you to send you a check or other payment.

  • Forgetting about an account: If you open a bank account, investment account, or other financial account and then forget about it, the account may become dormant and eventually be considered unclaimed.

  • Failing to claim a payment: If you receive a payment, such as a tax refund or insurance payout, and fail to claim it within a certain timeframe, it may be turned over to the state as unclaimed property.

  • Missing an inheritance: If a family member passes away and leaves you an inheritance, you may not be aware of it if the executor of the estate is unable to locate you.

How to Find Unclaimed Money

Fortunately, there are several ways to find out if you have unclaimed money waiting for you. Here are some steps you can take:

  1. Check with your state's unclaimed property office. Every state has an unclaimed property office that is responsible for holding onto unclaimed money and assets until they can be claimed by their rightful owners. To find your state's office, visit NAUPA's website and click on your state.

  2. Search the national database. The National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators (NAUPA) has a free online database that allows you to search for unclaimed money and property across multiple states. To use the database, visit NAUPA's website and enter your information.

  3. Check with the federal government. If you are owed money from the federal government, such as an unclaimed tax refund or a forgotten savings bond, you can search for it using the Treasury Department's online database.

  4. Search for unclaimed pensions. If you have worked for a company in the past and participated in a pension plan, you may be owed unclaimed pension benefits. To search for unclaimed pensions, visit the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation's website and enter your information.

  5. Check with other sources. In addition to the above sources, there are other places where unclaimed money and property may be held, such as credit unions, utility companies, and more. Be sure to search for unclaimed property in as many places as possible to increase your chances of finding any money that may be owed to you.

How to Claim Unclaimed Money

Once you have located unclaimed money or property that belongs to you, the next step is to claim it. Here are some steps you can take:

  1. Provide documentation. To claim unclaimed money or property, you will typically need to provide documentation that proves your identity and your claim to the assets. This may include a government-issued ID, a social security card, a birth certificate, and more.

  2. Fill out the necessary forms. Once you have provided documentation, you will need to fill out the necessary claim forms. These forms will vary depending on the type of property you are claiming and the state or federal agency holding it.

  3. Submit your claim. Once you have completed the necessary forms, you will need to submit your claim to the appropriate agency. Be sure to follow the instructions carefully and provide any additional information or documentation that may be required.

  4. Wait for your claim to be processed. The time it takes for your claim to be processed will vary depending on the agency and the type of property you are claiming. In some cases, you may receive your money or property within a few weeks, while in other cases it may take several months.

Tips for Finding and Claiming Unclaimed Money

Here are some tips to help you maximize your chances of finding and claiming unclaimed money:

  1. Search regularly. Unclaimed property is added to state and federal databases on a regular basis, so it's a good idea to check for unclaimed money and property every few months.

  2. Use multiple search tools. To increase your chances of finding unclaimed property, use multiple search tools, such as your state's unclaimed property office, the national database, and other sources.

  3. Keep your contact information up to date. Make sure that your financial institutions, employers, and other organizations have your current address and contact information so that they can reach you if you are owed money.

  4. Be wary of scams. Unfortunately, there are many scams out there that claim to help you find and claim unclaimed property for a fee. Be sure to only use reputable search tools and agencies, and never pay for help claiming your property.

In conclusion, if you think you might have unclaimed money or property waiting for you, it's worth taking the time to search for it. By using multiple search tools and following the necessary steps to claim your property, you could be reunited with money or assets that you had forgotten about or didn't even know existed. So start your search today and see if you have any unclaimed money waiting for you!


  1. National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators (NAUPA)

  2. USA.gov

  3. Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC)

  4. TreasuryDirect.gov

  5. Internal Revenue Service (IRS)

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Zac Duvernet
Zac Duvernet

Zac is an entrepreneur and philanthropist who has scaled and sold a multi-million dollar website, invested in various startups, donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to impactful non-profits, and built a portfolio of investment properties over the past 15 years. He loves to find ways to add value to peoples lives and build meaningful connections. When he is not working Zac is obsessed with the outdoors and loves surfing and snowboarding.