Do you have unclaimed property? If so, how would you know? Is it worth it to pay a service to help you identify unclaimed property?
Unclaimed property describes accounts in financial institutions and companies that have had no activity or account holder contact for one year or more. This can include savings or checking accounts, refunds, customer overpayments, contents of safe deposit boxes, etc.
To begin searching for lost property, check legitimate sites like missingmoney.com, which is endorsed by the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators (NAUPA). This site has official records of unclaimed property from every state and most U.S. territories, plus Alberta, British Columbia and Quebec in Canada. Check for property in every jurisdiction in which you have resided. It is free to search; however, you may have to pay a small fee to obtain the property.
According to NAUPA, there are many businesses (sometimes called finders or locators) that find legitimate lost property for owners and inform them how to obtain it for a fee, usually a percentage of the total (some states limit the fee to 10 percent). Sometimes, companies will hire these firms to find you before they turn the funds over to the state. Ultimately the finder will ask you to sign a contract.
The majority of firms that provide these services work within the law, but there are also some unclaimed property scams around. Before signing any contract, BBB of Central New England recommends caution. If you are unsure that the firm is legitimate, contact your BBB or the unclaimed property office in your state for more information.
To prevent accumulating unclaimed property, NAUPA suggests the following tips:
· Deposit or cash all checks for dividends, wages, insurance settlements, etc. without delay.