Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Collecting unclaimed property


States hold onto unclaimed properties on behalf of the owner. Such property includes life insurance policies, tangible goods, and unclaimed employment paychecks.

You can search online with just your name to find out if you have any unclaimed property by going to http://unclaimed.org/ or http://missingmoney.com/. I did a search myself and discovered a $300 paycheck from an old employer that we had, for whatever reason, not received. Though we have not yet gone through the process, we are going to file a claim tonight and I will post a review.

Be very wary of scams, however, as this information is public and various firms may try to charge you to claim your money. The state comptroller will charge you a small fee (my state charges 1% for up to $5,000 and 1.5% above, zero for less than $100). Some however will try to get up to 10% out of you, or charge you to do the search. Don't fall for it - the information is free and filing your own claim is easy and cheap (so far as I can tell, it can all be done online).

Acting in the best interest of consumers, each state has enacted an unclaimed property statute that protects your funds from reverting back to the company if you have lost contact with them. These laws instruct companies to turn forgotten funds over to a state official who will then make a diligent effort to find you or your heirs. Most states hold lost funds until you are found, returning them to you at no cost or for a nominal handling fee upon filing a claim form and verification of your identity.
If in doubt, call your state comptroller or visit your state's official website and search it for "unclaimed property".

3 comments:

Jim said...

$300 sounds great but you have to wonder what kind of fees you'll pay just to claim it. I've got money from class action lawsuits that just group every consumer that ever bought anything from the company between a period of time, and they just divide the settlement amount out. Of course the lawyers and processing fees take a huge chunk of it. Have fun getting paid though.

Beyond the Consumer said...

Go through the state, not through a private organization. My state will charge me 1% on this unclaimed money to collect it.

Beyond the Consumer said...

UPDATE: As I expected, this will be a long process. The state website allows you to print out and mail in a form to claim your unclaimed property. You will require a photocopy of your driver's license, proof of SSN, and proof of address (the address that the report lists for you - SO, if you've moved, you'll need to dig up some old paperwork). You then mail it in and wait 60-90 days for processing. Depending on your state, you will pay a handling fee to the state - mine on this amount we are claiming is 1% (it goes up to 1.5% for high amounts).