If you've ever found money in a couch or comfy chair or the pocket of your of pants, you know what a great feeling that is. But have you checked with the government for unclaimed property?
The government is sitting on billions of dollars in unclaimed cash, waiting for owners to come forward. But when we asked a group of lunchtime diners to look up their names on the national database, we learned that most have never done it.
"No, I have not," Jordan Toney told us. So she got on her phone and entered her name. She couldn't believe what popped up.
"It looks like there are a few in this area, so I'm assuming they are all me," she said.
And when she clicked further, she got a pleasant surprise.
"I have $25 to $50 unclaimed," she said,
Her friend Garrin Gibson found $50 from a cell phone carrier she used to have.
"I didn't know about that," she said.
Patti Wilson is the unclaimed property administrator for the State of Washington.
"I always tell people this is like the best job in state government," she said,
She works every day to help connect people with forgotten money.
"We're talking hundreds of billions of dollars in unclaimed funds that are being held," Wilson said,
Those funds are things like:
- Uncashed checks
- Insurance payouts
- Old apartment or utility deposits
- Old stock or bank dividends
If the business can't find you, by law, they have to turn that money over to the government. One in seven Americans have abandoned cash, Wilson says.
"Folks think they know every penny and where it's at. Those are the people that are going to have something out there, is what I found," she said.
Easy way to look for your cash
So, how can you look up your name?
All you need to do is go to MissingMoney.com, a site set up by state administrators where you can quickly search your name. The database will scan every state you've lived in for unclaimed funds.
If it finds something, you just need to file a claim and then follow the instructions to prove your identity. Note that you must provide your birth date and Social Security Number, as that is the only way they can tell you from other people with a similar name.
You might get paid just in time for the holidays.
Jonathan Coleman found "between $50 and $100," he said. "That's not bad; that's money I didn't have before!"
So give MissingMoney.com a try, so you don't waste your money.
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