How To Find Missing Money You Didn’t Even Know You Lost

photo-1459257831348-f0cdd359235fI once found a $5 bill in my pocket when I put on a jacket I hadn’t worn in a long time. I was so excited I didn’t know what to do with myself. You would have thought I had won the lottery.

But who wouldn’t be excited? Nothing beats the thrill of finding missing money you didn’t even know you lost.

So imagine my reaction when I recently discovered that I had over $100 in unclaimed property!

Missing money. Missingmoney.com is a national database of unclaimed property records established by the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators (NAUPA) to help people reclaim assets that may have been lost. Minnesota residents can also check out the MN Department of Commerce website as well.

Maybe you moved or changed your name. Perhaps a company you used to do business with was sold to a competitor, and then changed hands a few more times, somehow losing track of you and your account in the process. Or you forgot about a bank account, or were entitled to a refund on an old security deposit.

Who knows how you lost your property? Frankly, who cares?

The point is it happens. And more often than you think. Over $41 billion sits in unclaimed property programs around the country. In 2011 over $2.5 billion was returned to owners with an average claim of $892.

Beware of fraudsters. Missingmoney.com and the NAUPA are legitimate organizations. However, some organizations that promise to help you find unclaimed assets are not. If you receive a letter or email that asks you to send money to reclaim your unclaimed property, it’s not legit.

Your best option is to go directly to the above websites and do a search on your name. If you have unclaimed property, you’ll be able to find out quickly.

Reclaim your unclaimed assets now. Today Show personal finance contributor, Jean Chatzky, explains more in this short video: http://www.today.com/video/how-to-find-your-unclaimed-money-jean-chatzky-explains-606797379602 . You can also click the links above or go directly to your state’s unclaimed property website.

The entire process to discover my missing money took only a couple minutes. Less than two weeks later I received my check.

Just think. Somewhere out there could be $100 or more with your name on it!