How would you feel if I told you that the federal government might have unclaimed money with your name on it? I’m dead serious! Never received that apartment deposit you were promised or that last week of pay from a summer job years ago? The federal government has been keeping it safe and sound for you and now there’s an easy way to claim it and put it in your pocket.

According to Credit Karma, there are over $40 billion dollars sitting in State governments waiting to be claimed. When a business owes you money, let’s say a former employer, they can try to send it to your last known address. But if you’ve moved, sometimes the money gets lost in the shuffle and never gets to you. The funds are then turned over to the state to hold until you claim it. If you find your name on the list, (congrats!) The funds are sent to you and you get to enjoy a fatter wallet.

How To Find Your Unclaimed Funds 

unclaimed money

Unfortunately, there isn’t a cut-and-dry source to claim all of your funds. If you’ve moved around the country you’ll have to check out all of the states you’ve lived in for funds. The infographic shows some great starting off points to get your research started.

Start In States You’ve Lived In

To begin, check out the site, and click on an individual state. The link will take you to the state’s financial services site where you can input your last name and search if you have any unclaimed property or claims.

Check on Unclaimed Wages

Can’t remember if you got that last paycheck from your summer job? The Wage and Hour Division’s (WHD’s) database, which is a part of the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has an entire list of unpaid wages which can be found here. Input your employer’s name and if your name pops up, start your claim through the website.

The United States Department of Labor tries its best to contact individuals and will hold wages for three years. After the three years are up the funds will be released to the Treasury Department of the United States.

Inquire about Veteran’s Life Insurance 

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) holds a database of unclaimed insurance funds that are owed to policyholders (either current or former) or their beneficiaries.


Look into Unclaimed Retirement Funds

The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation keeps a list of unclaimed pension money from companies that went out of business or ended a defined plan.

Check out Your Banks

Banks and credit unions fail and sometimes investors still owe you money from closed bank accounts. Check out these links to get everything they owe you.

The U.S. Department of the Treasury also hosts a public service to redeem mutilated currency in cases of fire, water, chemicals, and explosives along with rodent damage, animal damage and deterioration by burying.

Inquire about Unclaimed Tax Refunds

While it’s hard to miss a tax refund check, things happen. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) holds on to unclaimed cash via their “Where’s My Refund?” page. You’ll need your social security number to access the refund. If it’s been longer than 6 weeks since you’ve mailed your return, give the IRS a call at their local office.

Keep An Eye Out For Scams

These free search tools are the only ways to find out if you possess any unclaimed assets. The government will not contact you directly, (because the reason you don’t have the funds is that they can’t find you) thus anyone that claims to have uncashed assets of yours is a scam.


The process takes a few minutes and you’d be surprised how much people have found. While searching I found a solid $15 from an old bank account I never closed. However, that’s pennies compared to what some people have found. A quick search and the state of Texas owes Beyonce Knowles over $2,000 in unclaimed wages.

Here are a few more examples of people that were able to find unclaimed funds:


What are you waiting for? See if you have some unclaimed funds with your name on it!

Watch: Saving Money in the City

Lyndsay Burginger is a food and lifestyle writer as well as the Managing Editor of Wide Open Eats. Lyndsay has worked for companies such as America's Test Kitchen and Disney, and holds degrees in Creative Writing and Culinary Arts. When she's not writing or cooking you can find Lyndsay traveling ...Read more
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