Where Does Unclaimed Money Come From?

Where Does Unclaimed Money Come From?

Almost every media outlet has reported it in one way or another: unclaimed cash and other types of property just sitting there waiting for its rightful owners.

Unbelievably, states, federal agencies and other organizations collectively hold more than $58 billion in unclaimed cash and benefits. That's roughly $186 for every U.S. resident!

But where does all of this missing money come from?

The unclaimed property comes from a variety of sources, including abandoned bank accounts and stock holdings, federal tax refunds and forgotten pension benefits.

Let's look a few of these categories a bit closer:

Pension Benefits

More than $300 million in pension benefits is currently owed to some 38,000 people, according to the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. The unclaimed benefits currently range from 12 cents to a whopping $704,621, with an average benefit of $9,100. Benefits may go unclaimed because an employee is unaware they had accrued retirement benefits at a previous employer, the agency said

Bank Accounts and Stock Holdings

Under varying state laws, financial institutions and other companies are required to turn over any funds considered "abandoned," including uncashed paychecks, forgotten bank account balances, unclaimed refunds, insurance payouts and contents of safe deposit boxes.

So maybe it's that bank account that you forgot to close or a stock holding that was once worth nothing but has slowly grown into a good amount of money.

Although the states try to find the owners of unclaimed property, every year the vast majority of unclaimed funds remain in state coffers.

How to Get Started

Now that you know where unclaimed property comes from, how do you check to see whether there is any in your name? There's a number of different ways that you can access that information.

Because there is no central database for this information, the best place to start is checking your state's controller's website. Remember to also check every state where you have lived as there could be unclaimed property in multiple states.

Good luck and we hope that you find some unclaimed property in your name!

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