How to Claim Your Unclaimed Money and Avoid Scams

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This totally happened to my husband! He had unclaimed money in the state treasury, but someone still tried to get him with this scam.

Do you have unclaimed money sitting around just waiting for you?

Believe it or not, you may, and you could find it sitting in your state treasury.

When a business or other entity tries to issue a payment to you, but they are not able to reach you, they don’t just get to pocket it. They have to deposit it with your state.

Maybe you moved and they didn’t know  your new address. Maybe you were set up on direct deposit and switched bank accounts. Whatever the reason for the discrepancy, the money must eventually makes its way to the state for safe keeping.

How to Get What’s Yours: Unclaimed Money

To check and see if you have any funds waiting, you can use this interactive tool to find the landing page for unclaimed money for your, specific state.

From there, you’ll be able to search your state’s treasury to see if there is any money waiting in your name. If there is, it will pop up with some basic information, including the last address on file and the name of the company that originally issued the payment.

You will not know exactly how much you have waiting for you, even if something pops up. In my home state of Pennsylvania, the treasury classifies funds as “over $100” or “under $100.” You won’t know the exact number until you receive the check in the mail.

Before you receive that check in the mail, you have to fill out some paperwork. You can print it out from your state treasury’s website or request that a hard copy be mailed to you. You’ll have to verify that you are the person who is owed money and sign the supporting documentation in front of a notary.

After the treasury has received your paperwork, they will issue you your long, lost check.

We did this years ago, and while we didn’t turn anything up for ourselves, we did find something for my mother-in-law. It turns out she had a final paycheck waiting for her from a past employer. She had fought them over it at the time, but got tired of the battle. Apparently they eventually realized she was right, but not before losing contact with her.

It was nice for her to receive a legit paycheck in retirement!

How to Avoid Scams Related to Unclaimed Money

Recently, the husband received a letter in the mail. In this letter, the company told him he had unclaimed funds amounting to around $2,000. They did have a specific amount, which I’m not sure how they got, but I’m not sharing his personal info on the internet.

To claim them, all he had to do was fill out the enclosed paperwork certifying that they would get a 15% cut. That would have been around $300.

THIS WAS A TOTAL SCAM.

They weren’t completely misleading—he did have unclaimed money waiting for him with the state treasury amounting to the same figure that they laid out. But they didn’t disclose that he could get the money on his own—without paying anyone commission—simply by going to the state’s website and filing the paperwork himself.

Which we did. It turns out that big check was an insurance claim that he had fought for and subsequently given up on, even though they really owed it to him. The insurance company eventually figured that out, too, though I’m not sure how they “lost touch” with him since he’s had continuous policies with them for years.

There was an added bonus we discovered, too–an over payment on school district taxes.

The moral of the story is two-fold:

  1. Check your state treasury’s for unclaimed money regularly. Just because you don’t have money in there today doesn’t mean you won’t in six months.
  2. Never ever release personal information or pay someone a commission to file simple paperwork for you. If they say they’ve got money for you, there’s no reason you should have to pay them to access it. Do some digging, find out where the money is and go get it yourself.
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12 thoughts on “How to Claim Your Unclaimed Money and Avoid Scams

  1. The Green Swan

    Wow good thing you sniffed out that scam! And great news on claiming and finally receiving that money! While I don’t think I’d have any unclaimed money I’ll have to give it look, especially since I have moved a few times. Thanks!

    Reply
    1. Femme Frugality

      We didn’t think he’d have anything, either! Definitely worth checking up on every once in a while. And if you’ve moved between states, be sure to check the treasuries in each state you live in.

      Reply
  2. Emily @ JohnJaneDoe

    Yeah, checked there last week, and while I didn’t have any money I had several family members who did. (utility deposits and insurance refunds, it looked like) But I’d never heard of such “helpful” companies before volunteering to take on the paperwork for such a “modest” fee.

    Reply
    1. Femme Frugality

      Yeah, that’s how ours was the first time around, too. Family members. I’m lucky that I knew what the heck they were referencing otherwise it would have been a lot easier to fall for the scam as I hadn’t heard of this practice, either. More than likely we would have ignored it and the money would have sat with the state unbeknownst to us, though.

      Reply
  3. Andrew@LivingRichCheaply

    Good tips. The unclaimed funds in NY is on an official state website so that made me feel more secure in entering my information. I had some unclaimed funds from a health insurance company. I told my friend who seemed to have unclaimed funds from GEICO but he kept insisting it was a scam.

    Reply
    1. femmefrugality Post author

      Yes, I would be wary of any website that is not officially from the state ending in “.gov”. He doesn’t believe it even after you’ve gotten your check? I run into that with scholarship and grant opportunities sometimes—the people I know could benefit the most don’t believe it applies to them, even when I try to show them the math. Frustrating when you just want to help someone!

      Reply
  4. Alexis @FITnancials

    I’m very afraid and worried of someone calling my mom in hopes of scamming her out of money. Those people are SO good at pretending to be government employees collecting tax money. It’s so sad how many people get taken advantage of every year.

    Reply
    1. femmefrugality Post author

      Legitimate concern! These people weren’t even pretending to be the government and weren’t trying to do a tax scam, though I agree that one’s super sad, too. I feel like things have gotten worse since cell phones—it felt like there was more regulation when we used landlines, but maybe I’m romanticizing my memories.

      Reply

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