updated - April 2, 2020 Thursday EDT
There are few people who would say no to extra funds. We could all use some extra money to start that new project, make some repairs or improvements, upgrade a phone plan, or just splurge on a good time. There are several ways to make this happen from becoming stricter with your budget to picking up a side job. If you have immediate needs, you could even use loan calculators to see how much money you could get and how easily you could pay it back. From personal, unsecured loans to secured loan options, there are plenty to choose from.
Any of these options may seem intimidating, but what if there was any easier way? What if you already had money out there that you didn't know about? It probably sounds too good to be true, but it's entirely possible. Money goes unclaimed for a variety of reasons, with loss of contact with the proper owner being the most common. Unclaimed funds could come from old bank accounts, misdelivered checks, forgotten pensions, and other sources. There's as much as $58 billion in unclaimed funds in the US right now, and some could be yours. You'll just need to know where and how to look to claim it. Here are some reliable places to start looking.
The internet offers near-endless options to find most anything, and you can find money online at golookup.com. This is an online database that allows you to search for yourself or others and any information that's on the public record. There are also multiple search engines available specifically for tracking down lost funds, so it's advisable to try multiple sources if the first doesn't pan out. It should be easy to search your name and state for potential funds, and you should search any state you've ever lived in since you never know where unclaimed money could come from.
Once you've located funds, you'll need to know that state's process for handling claims. Most states require you to mail in a claim form, though a few allow online claims. You'll have to provide documentation proving your identity as well, which typically includes a social security card, state ID, and W-2 form.
If you're having trouble finding money online, you can always check potential sources directly. The IRS is a great place to start since there are thousands of tax refund checks that go unclaimed due to the recipient moving or the check being undeliverable. The same goes for your state tax refunds, so it's important to check your state's department of taxation as well. You could even be owed a refund for a previous tax year, in which case you can do a late filing. After three years, unclaimed refunds become the property of the Department of the Treasury, which is another great place to check for various types of unclaimed payments including savings bonds.
These cases are less common, but if you've had relatives pass away, you could be owed funds from the estate of the deceased. This can happen in cases where the deceased just lost track of money late in life, and this is one of the most common ways money goes missing. You could also be owed unclaimed life insurance benefits if the policy was forgotten about or even if it's from an older company that demutualized. It can be difficult to go through the claims process alone, so you might consider hiring a probate attorney to help prove funds are owed to you and search for any missed ones.
Ultimately, there's no way to say for sure where unclaimed funds could come from or how soon they'll be returned to you. There are many potential sources, and states may take a matter of weeks or a matter of months to return the money. The only way to find out for sure is to start looking.
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