Unclaimed Funds and Property Tips
If you have seen the late-night infomercials about unclaimed funds and property, you may wonder whether there is any truth to such claims. You may also wonder whether it would be worth your time to search for unclaimed money. Many people believe such claims to be nothing more than scams and never make the effort to look for unclaimed property or money. As a result the Federal government and state treasuries around the country are currently holding billions of dollars in unclaimed funds.
Where do unclaimed funds come from?
Unclaimed funds can arise through a variety of different reasons. Some reasons why unclaimed funds may be held include uncashed checks, forgotten checking and savings accounts, insurance claims or refunds, oil royalties, unpaid wages, bail bonds, utility deposits or refunds, child support payments, securities and dividends. Unclaimed funds can also arise from gift cards that are never claimed. For instance, in 2009 Home Depot reported $37 million arising in revenue from gift card credit that remained unused, according to reports from the Securities and Exchange Commission. Last year the State of New York collected more than $9.5 million in gift cards that were unredeemed based on reports provided by the New York state comptroller.
Unclaimed funds have now reached such proportions that many states have decided to hold sponsored public fairs to assist unclaimed funds and property owners with their claims. From dormant savings and checking accounts to un-redeemed payroll checks, stocks and money orders, there are billions of dollars currently waiting to be claimed. Such large amounts of money are certainly enough to whet the curiosity of most people.
Tips searching unclaimed funds
When searching for unclaimed funds; however, it is important to keep a few safety tips in mind. First, be cautious about paying fees to companies that promise to conduct a search for unclaimed money for you. It is particularly important to exercise due diligence if you are contacted directly by any such company. There are some firms that will use the Freedom of Information Act to gain information regarding the owners of unclaimed property or funds and then notify those individuals they will do the search for them for a fee. The fee that you pay to have the company conduct the search for you very well could take up a large portion of the money coming to you. Furthermore, in many cases this is a search that you could easily conduct on your own and save yourself the fee.
While most search firms offer services within the law there are some unclaimed fund scams that are in operation around the country. Such companies prey on unsuspecting individuals and make a profit by promising to locate unclaimed money for you, charge you a hefty fee and then never produce anything for you. Other companies charge fees by claiming there are unclaimed funds under your name but fail to mention there could be multiple people with your same name who are owed unclaimed funds in your state.
Prior to signing any type of contract with a company providing this type of service, you should be wary and contact the unclaimed money or property office within your own state for additional information. When conducting your own search remember that the unclaimed property office in your own state is a good place to start, but you should also take care not to overlook other possible venues for unclaimed funds or property, such as federal agencies. The IRS as well as the U.S. Treasury Department regularly have unclaimed funds that arise from tax refunds that are returned as undeliverable and unclaimed savings bonds.
Check frequently for unclaimed funds
Finally, remember to continue checking unclaimed funds and property sites frequently. Such sites are continuously updated with a current list of all unclaimed property and money accounts. In many cases unclaimed funds are not reported until three to five years after the original company has tried to contact the owner of the funds or property, so it is certainly to your benefit to check frequently.