How to Find Missing Money

How to Find Missing Money

by Jeffrey Strain (

Billions of dollars – yes, that’s a “B” – in cash and property go unclaimed each year and it’s quite possible that a portion of that may be yours. While the chances of finding a lottery size amount of money are slim, finding several hundred dollars is common. Estimates are that as many as 1 out of every 8 people in the US have an unclaimed asset lying around somewhere. Assets get lost for any number of reasons, but it’s usually a result of a move, a change of jobs, a change of name through marriage or when a relative dies. The question is how do you go about finding out if one of the lost assets out there is yours?

Many people first become aware that there may be money for them that they didn’t know about through snail or electronic mail. There are a growing number of businesses that search public databases for unclaimed property and attempt to locate the owners. When they do, they typically send a correspondence to the property owner saying that for a finder’s fee of 20% to 30%, they will reunite the two.

There are also a number of business working on the Internet that have compiled databases on unclaimed assets. These companies usually charge a fee (usually around $20) for a search, or let you search for free, but then charge you a fee to get access to information if your name is in their database. Either way, you have to cough up money on the chance that there is some money for you with no guarantee that the money is yours. What all these companies don’t want you to know is that all the information they use is available to you free of charge.

States currently hold in trust over $35 billion in unclaimed assets. To try and reunite these assets to their rightful owners, states have their own individual unclaimed asset website or belong to a free online database at which is sponsored by the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators. This database holds the unclaimed asset records of about a quarter of the states and the District of Columbia.

While most people simply type in their name and possibly the names of a few family members, to really get the most out of the system and create the best chance of finding unclaimed assets, you should take a few minutes to jot down some information before diving into the searches. First, make a list of all the different states where you have lived or held a job. Next, make a list of all deceased relatives with the states where they lived and worked. Once you have this information, you can begin to type your or your deceased relative’s name into the appropriate state’s unclaimed asset search engine to see if a matching name comes up.

Links To Free Unclaimed Money Sites

If a matching name does appear, you can usually begin the reclaiming process right on the site. There are also a number of federal government sites that hold unclaimed assets of which you may not have been aware. These include savings bonds, government-guaranteed mortgage insurance refunds and pensions. There currently is no central database to search for these federal missing funds, so you’ll have to check the different government agency sites to see if any is holding money in your or a relative’s name.

So what are you waiting for? It doesn’t cost a penny to search any of the sites listed below and only takes a few clicks of the mouse to find out if you, too, have some money out there that you didn’t know about.

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Copyright Jeffrey Strain 2002 – 2004, All Rights Reserved. If you find anything inaccurate with this article. please email us.


State: National free search database that includes the following states: Arizona, Colorado, Delaware, District of Columbia, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, South Dakota, Vermont, West Virginia, Wisconsin

New Hampshire
New Jersey
New Mexico
New York
North Carolina
North Dakota
Rhode Island
South Carolina
West Virginia


The National Unclaimed Property Database: Free search database and resource site for over $35 billion of unclaimed money and property held by U.S. federal and state government agencies, Canada and others.

Housing And Urban Development: Free search for funds for mortgage insurance obtained by government loan.

Pension Search: Free search for funds on retirement accounts.

US Savings Bonds: Free search for lost, stolen or destroyed saving bonds.


Canada: Free search for unclaimed accounts in Canada.

British Columbia: Free search for unclaimed accounts in British Columbia.

Swiss Bank Accounts: Free search for dormant Swiss Bank Accounts.

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