The state government taketh, but it also giveth: While it taxes a portion of our earnings, it also tries to return unclaimed money to whom it belongs.
Many state treasuries are sitting on large sums that have gone unclaimed by their rightful owners. The Illinois Treasury’s Unclaimed Property Division, for example, holds $1.5 billion in cash.
And it’s not just money that goes missing. Examples of unclaimed property include:
- Funds in inactive bank accounts
- Salary or commission checks that were never cashed
- Stocks and bonds that have been left languishing
- Unused gift checks
- Life insurance properties
- Overpayments on bills
- Items from safe deposit boxes
States Dash to Return Cash
Because it takes time and resources to safeguard such treasures, the states work hard to get the unclaimed possessions back to their owners.
Illinois has made an energetic push to reunite forgotten funds and property with rightful owners with a program known as “Cash Dash.” After searching an online database sponsored by the Illinois Treasury, residents who find that they have money owed to them may then send in an inquiry or attend a Cash Dash event and speak to a marketer. The treasury will then examine your claim (which is free to file), verify that you are the true owner and work to reconnect you with your long-lost cash.
The database currently has more than 10 million entries, and the Cash Dash program has been successful: On average, it returns close to $80 million annually to owners.
How Do You Cash In?
Many other states run campaigns like Illinois' to help you locate and collect money that you are owed.
If you think you may be missing some money (or if you’re just curious!), look up your state’s unclaimed property page at Unclaimed.org. Make sure you check any state where you have lived in the past.
You can also try TreasuryHunt.gov to search for any treasury or saving bonds using your social security number.
Be cautious about any other unclaimed cash website, though. Some pose as official databases and will attempt to trick you into submitting your financial information. And never believe any emails coming from an “unclaimed funds official” directing you to cash in on some forgotten fund; that’s a recent scam that’s been going around. Only trust your state’s official unclaimed property page.
(What else is going unclaimed? Lottery tickets! The odds of winning are extremely slim, but if you decide to indulge, make sure you check up on them.)