Unclaimed Funds in Your Name Could Be Waiting, BBB Tips on How to Find Out

July 25, 2017

unclaimed propertyHave you ever wondered if there is unclaimed property being held by the government? Would you know how to find out if there was? Better Business Bureau of Central New England often receives inquires about paying for services to search from unclaimed property from consumers. So, should you have to pay to find this out?

Unclaimed property is accounts in banks or other financial institutions that have had no activity or contact with the account holder for more than one year. This includes checking and savings accounts, refunds, customer overpayments, safety deposit boxes, etc.

“There are several ways to search for unclaimed property, many of which are free to the public,” said Nancy B. Cahalen, President and CEO of the Better Business Bureau of Central New England. “There are also many companies that find legitimate lost property for owners and inform them how to obtain it, usually for a fee. Consumers should be aware of options available to them when searching for lost property.” To start you search, go to missingmoney.com, this legitimate site is endorsed by the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators (NAUPA). The site has official records of unclaimed property from every state and most U.S. territories and some areas of Canada. Check for property in every area you have resided. The search is free, however, there may be a small fee if there are funds to claim. According to the NAUPA, some companies may hire finder or locators to contact you before turning funds over to the state, they may require you to sign a contract and require a percentage of the fee in payment for their services. 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 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. In Massachusetts and Connecticut, this is through the state office of the Treasurer for each state.

To prevent accumulating unclaimed property, NAUPA suggests the following tips:

  • Deposit or cash all checks for dividends, wages, insurance settlements, etc. without delay.
  • Respond to legitimate requests for confirmation of account balances and stock holder proxies.
  • If you have a safe deposit box, record its number, bank name and address, and give the extra key to a trusted person.
  • Prepare and file a will detailing the disposition of your assets.

For more information on how to recover unclaimed property, check out unclaimed.org/what.