“It’s MY money and I need it NOW!”
You may have heard this phrase in one of JG Wenworth’s well-known commercials. You know the one: people are yelling out of windows, “It’s MY money and I need it NOW!”. It’s supposed to help us feel empowered to take the money that is rightfully ours to use when we want to. Instead it leaves us feeling skeptical and wary.
Do we really have money out there that’s ours and we can just take and use when we need it? In our world of Nigerian princes, dying distant relatives and other crazy scams, we are right to be leery and cautious of claims of unclaimed money. However, according to Credit Karma, there are more than $40 billion dollars in unclaimed money sitting with state governments.
So, do we really have missing money waiting for us to bring it home? The answer is Yes and No.
Ok, we get it, “Yes and No” wasn’t the answer you wanted but let us explain.
You may have money “out there” that is yours and you could claim it but that’s not guaranteed. You see, if the government owes you money and you do not collect it, then it’s yours. This also applies to banks, credit unions, pensions, and other sources. If a business owes you money and they can’t send it to you, they turn it over to the state to hold for you. The state then keeps a detailed list of who the money belongs to and you can search for it, claim it and have it sent to you.
Finding your missing money is much easier than it used to be. With states keeping records and the power of the internet, a simple search could reunite you with your lost cash. There are a few ground rules, however, that we advise that you follow so you don’t get scammed searching for what’s already yours.
Don’t pay anyone to search for your money.
There are some companies that will search for your money for a fee. They are scamming you. All the government and local searches are available to you for free. You shouldn’t have to pay anyone to find your missing money or to send your money to you. If you’re not sure if the site or person is legit, ask us or check with the FTC.
Don’t check just one website.
There are a few places you can check to cover all your bases. Searching just for unclaimed property or tax refund checks could make you miss unclaimed back wages, insurance or closed bank accounts. You can go through the full list of places to search in under 7 minutes. Yes, we actually timed it for you. If you have a few minutes to spare or 6 minutes and 34 seconds, to be exact, you can search the databases and see if there’s any money out there for you. It doesn’t take long and isn’t complicated.
Don’t check just one state.
If you’ve ever moved, be sure to check the previous states or addresses that you lived in. You have moved, forgot to change your address with an institution and that’s why they couldn’t let you know they had your money. Be sure to check previous states and always change your address with important government agencies so they can find you if a business sends your cash to them.
Don’t forget the money in your hand.
Unclaimed money isn’t the only money you could get back. You could actually be holding money you didn’t know you could use. We’re talking about mutilated or destroyed money. The Bureau of Engraving and Printing redeems mutilated currency as a free public service. If Fido tried to destroy your money or it got burned, torn, damaged by water or any other qualified mutilation, don’t freak out! Just submit the cash and have a little patience. According to the BEP, “Every year the Treasury Department handles approximately 30,000 claims and redeems mutilated currency valued at over $30 million. Your money is important. However, please know that heavy volume and the precise nature of the work may result in lengthy wait times.” It’s your money but if It’s mutilated, you may not get it “now”.
Scams are real but unclaimed money is just as real.
It never hurts to do a little annual search for what may be yours. We suggest every year on “Tax Day”, April 15th, you check for unclaimed properties. If you don’t want to wait until then you can visit our website to search or ask us and we’re happy to check for you – for free of course.
Because when it comes to your money, you should have it, now or later.