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How to Find Missing Money

Published September 27, 2019

3 minute read

Joshua Williams

By Joshua Williams

Do you think that you might have unclaimed money somewhere? No, I’m not talking about money that’s lost down in your couch cushions or out in your car. I’m talking about lost or unclaimed property, pensions, and savings bonds. Every year across the U.S., millions of dollars go unclaimed. As such, the money sits there waiting for its rightful owner to claim it.

Perhaps there is unclaimed money out there from your parents or other relatives, just waiting for you to find it. You don’t know until you check it out — and here’s how.

Why Is There So Much Unclaimed Money?

Most commonly, the reason for unclaimed money is misaddressed mail, checks, or notifications that weren’t forwarded after a person moved.  If you think you may be missing money out there, you first need to know where to look. Once you know that, you can apply simple methods for getting the money in your hands.

The Internal Revenue Service

Did you know that every year, thousands of income tax refund checks are returned to the IRS? This usually happens because the taxpayer has moved or was sent to an incomplete or improper address. Simply, contact the IRS to help you track down any lost refunds or unclaimed money.

It’s important to note that you only have three years to claim any outstanding refund. After three years, the money becomes the property of the U.S Treasury.

State Departments of Taxation

State tax refunds also tend to go unclaimed for the same reason tax refunds checks go unclaimed.

To find unclaimed money, check the website This website allows you to search by clicking on a state, territory, or province from a map of the United States and Canada.

Failed or Forgotten Pension Plan

If you’re looking for that old pension account that you forgot about or perhaps you remember that you should be getting one from a previous job, then you’ll want to check out the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation. They offer a search database that covers defunct company pension plans.

If you worked for a company whose pension plan failed, you may be able to get some money back.

Unclaimed Funds or Property from Old Bank Accounts

When it comes to finding lost money, you can’t get much better than This website allows you to search the official database of the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators, as well as your individual state unclaimed property databases.

Don’t forget to check other states where you have lived in the past and your maiden name.

Life Insurance Policies

Did you know if you own a life insurance policy from a company that demutualized, the policy may owe you cash or stock? Plus, if you had a relative pass away, there may be unclaimed life insurance benefits waiting for you to claim.

Check out to find lost heirs and beneficiaries.

Retirement Plans

If you’ve changed jobs, it’s possible that you may have a small balance in the retirement plan from your previous employer that you’ve forgotten to claim. The National Registry of Unclaimed Retirement Benefits is a great resource to find retirement place account balances that have been left unclaimed by you or deceased loved one.

The U.S. Treasury

Finally, there is one more investment that commonly gets misplaced: savings bonds. This happens because of the duration from purchase to maturity.

If you’ve lost track of your savings bonds, rest assured, you’re not alone. If you know the social security number on the bonds or the date of issue, you can visit the Treasury Direct Service to see about getting your bonds reissued or replaced.

Missing Coin Found in Couch

Rob Byron / Shutterstock

Joshua Williams


Joshua is a freelance writer with years of experience blogging about business and finance, and a whole host of other things too. When he's not writing, he enjoys camping with his dog, a golden retriever named Oakley.

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