Is there a nice pile of cash out there somewhere with your name on it? If you're like many of us and have moved from city to city and state to state over the years, there's a very real chance that you left a security deposit or savings account behind. In the haste of packing and moving, you may have overlooked some money. It might be sitting there, waiting for you to claim it.
Never fear. There are laws covering this kind of thing. In this case, the government really is looking out for you.
$33 Billion In Unclaimed Money
The National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators announced that state governments and other governmental entities are holding nearly $33 billion in lost and forgotten assets that are waiting to be claimed by about 117 Credit: Stock.xchngmillion account owners. Some examples: funds in bank accounts, security deposits, stocks and bonds and insurance payments. The amount of the average claim is $892.
Every state in the United States -- plus the U.S. Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico and the Canadian provinces of Alberta, British Columbia and Quebec -- has official procedures for helping the true owners of forgotten assets find their money. Each year successful claims amount to approximately $2 billion. Each state, province or territory has its own procedure for making claims.
United States and Canada
Consumer protection laws that have been in effect since the 1930s protect the rightful owners from losing their forgotten assets. Such assets can't be kept by the bank or company that was holding them. The assets must be transferred to a designated government official after a period of time. Officials must use their best efforts to locate the owners of the assets or their heirs. Outreach programs exist for this purpose Credit: Stock.xchngand there are websites that process claims and respond to inquiries. The best general contact point is the treasurer of each state. Another good starting point is the website of the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators (www.unclaimed.org). There's a large map on the first page with links to state treasurers and their equivalents in other jurisdictions.
The Bureau of Public Debt at the Treasury Department holds undeliverable bond payments. Each year about 25,000 such undeliverable payments are returned to the Treasury. In addition, there are billions of dollars worth of savings bonds that are no longer earning interest and have not been cashed. The Department has a service called Treasury Hunt, which provides information on savings bonds issued since 1974. There are online claim procedures for lost, stolen or destroyed bonds.
Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation
The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation insures deposits at financial institutions up to $250,000. If a bank or other financial institution fails and is closed by a regulator, the FDIC becomes the legal receiver and makes payment on insured accounts. Depositors who have not been paid can file a claim at the FDIC.
National Credit Union Administration
When a federally insured credit union fails and is liquidated, the Asset Management and Assistance Center of the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) becomes responsible for paying members' claims. The NCUA has state online contact information.
Internal Revenue Service
Taxpayers who are expecting refunds can contact the IRS online (www.irs.gov) to inquire. The online contact point for IRS refund inquiries is called Where's My Refund. Taxpayers whose refund was lost, stolen or destroyed can file a claim for a replacement check.
Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp.
The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. can determine whether you are owed any pension benefits if your pension plan no longer exists because it was closed or was taken over by the pension agency. You also can track down the benefits if you are a survivor of the person who should be drawing the pension.
The following agencies sometimes have unclaimed funds on hold: U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Veterans Administration and the U.S. Railroad Retirement Board.
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