It’s not exactly buried treasure, but there could be some forgotten money out there with your name on it.
Every state in the U.S. has an unclaimed property program that works to connect the owners of lost or forgotten assets with their money.
That may sound ridiculous: who forgets about their money? But it happens.
You may have moved and opened accounts at a local bank and never got to closing out the prior accounts. Your five year certificate of deposit (CD) matured but you forgot about it after you moved. You’ve changed jobs a few times and participated in their retirement plan, but forgot to keep your addresses updated. You moved out of a rental unit but didn’t remember to get your security deposit back.
So, how widespread is this? In 2015 over 3 billion dollars was sent back to the rightful owners.
This unclaimed property could be many different things: checking or savings account, retirement accounts, insurance payments, security deposits, refunds of over payments, etc.
There may be time limits to claim your funds in some cases, so check frequently.
For example: if you are due a tax refund from a few years prior, you must file a federal income tax return to get your money. You typically have a three-year window following the return due date to claim your tax refund (and there’s no penalty for filing a late return if you’re due a refund). For example, your 2018 tax return is due on April 15, 2019. If you add three years to this filing deadline, you have until April 15, 2022, to file your 2018 tax return and still get a tax refund.
One word of caution; as with all things that sound a little too good to be true, this is an area ripe for scams. Be sure to stick to the official government websites and beware anyone contacting you out of the blue about unclaimed property you can get back if you just work with them (usually for an upfront fee.) If the money really is yours, you don’t need to pay anyone to get it back.