find unclaimed moneyFree money. Who doesn’t like that? Even if you’ve heard about unclaimed funds, read on. You may learn a new way to find unclaimed cash. It doesn’t all end up in the same spot. Some funds are sent to the federal government rather than your state. Even if you checked yesterday, today there may be funds waiting for you. How to find unclaimed money and collect it for free. Yes, it’s free to collect. Ignore companies who charge fees to reunite you with your missing money.

Find unclaimed money

There are billions of dollars sitting in state bank accounts when it could be in your hands. Are you going to let a state make interest off your money? Even if you’ve checked for unclaimed money before, check the list again. The database is constantly updated. Don’t just check your name. Check the names of friends and family members. Free money puts smiles on faces. Every time I check, I find someone I know who is owed money.

Check alive and deceased relatives. If you have the proper paperwork, heirs can get the unclaimed funds.

You can search the Unclaimed Fund for the state you live, or search the national Missing Money database.

The unclaimed funds are bank accounts, safe deposit box contents, stocks, mutual funds, bonds, dividends, uncashed checks, wages, insurance policies, unused / expired gift cards, jewelry, CD’s, trust funds, utility deposits, and escrow accounts. If you’ve moved, you have a higher chance of having unclaimed money, and not knowing about it.

While lots of items are turned over to state unclaimed property funds, savings bonds are sent to the Department of Treasury. Every year, 15,000 savings bonds and 25,000 payments are undeliverable and therefore turned over to the federal government. You need to do a separate search for unclaimed savings bonds.

While the state’s try to contact the owner’s of the money, billions of dollars still go unclaimed every year. I found a man owed $100,000 in unclaimed money in Florida. He wasn’t even that difficult to find.

consumer news mom communityCollecting missing money

When you search the database, you find out address linked to the money. You also see the source and amount. Sometimes, the source and amount are not listed.

The address is important because you need to prove you once lived there, and you may have to prove you own the property. The verification rules vary by state and account.

Once you claim the money, a claim form will appear. Fill that out completely. Then, follow the instructions and supply the required documentation and identification. Mail off the paperwork for processing, and wait for your unclaimed cash to be claimed.

Be patient. It takes time to collect the money. Also, it takes time to dig up the proper paperwork. Over the years, I’ve heard from frustrated consumers who can’t claim money they know is theirs. That’s because they don’t have the proper paperwork. Work with the state who holds the funds to come up with some type of paperwork to prove you are the owner.

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Warning: avoid finder fees

Some consumers find out about unclaimed funds in their name with a letter in the mail. While some states send these letters, others are from professional unclaimed fund finders. You need to read the letter carefully to see who it’s from. You can see a sample letter from Florida. A West Palm Beach man called me wondering if it’s a legitimate letter. It is.

The letters from so-called finder agencies are legitimate too. However, you’ll pay for their services. There’s no need to do that because you can claim the money on your own for free.

The fees are capped in Florida at 20%, up to a maximum of $1000. However, there are ways to get around that with a full disclosure statement. Be careful. There is no need to pay someone to do something you can do for free.

Even if you have problems claiming the money on your own, the finder will likely have the same problems too.

Sometimes the finders or locator companies tell you to act quickly or you’ll lose access to the money. There is no rush to claim the money. It’s yours indefinitely.

Unclaimed money interest payouts

Most states pay interest on accounts that accumulate interest like savings accounts. However, that’s not the case in every state.

Ohio does not pay interest on any money even though they earn interest on it. In Ohio, the unclaimed funds are used to fund low and moderate income housing. The rest is put into low-risk investments.

Ohio stopped paying interest on funds in 1991. In 2004, it led to a lawsuit. It led to a very long lawsuit. The State wanted to keep the interest money out of claimant’s hands. The debate went all the way to the Ohio Supreme Court. The high court called the law “unconstitutional,” and consumers still didn’t see a payday right away.

The state finally proposed a $15 million settlement. That ended an eight-year legal battle over interest on unclaimed funds.