Unclaimed Property: A Fun(ish) Quarantine Activity

Filed Under: Great Deals, Misc.

Earlier this week I was pointed to a Tweet from Yashar Ali calling out the vast amount of “Unclaimed Property” that has been turned over to state treasuries for one reason or another:

https://twitter.com/yashar/status/1245466386278658049

Apparently this can include everything from undeposited paychecks and other uncashed checks, to refunds from businesses, to unspent gift card balances, to stocks and securities, to safe deposit box keys, and more.

I didn’t even know this was a thing, and most folks on our Happy Hour a couple of days ago hadn’t heard of it either. And given that OMAAT readers tend to love both deals and treasure hunts, I figured it was worth passing along.

How much Unclaimed Property are we talking about?

There are billions and billions of dollars being held by various state treasuries. There are substantial deposits in some cases, but for most of us it’s probably a much smaller chunk of change. Because it’s such a broad range, I’d suggest looking for yourself and your business in any states you’ve worked or done business in, just in case.

Overall, I found ~$200 worth of random unclaimed amounts, my sister found a few hundred dollars for her family (including an old elementary school lunch account for my now 22-year old niece), Ben found ~$150 in utility deposits, and half of my husband’s coworkers found at least $50.

So YMMV, but might as well take a look.

Some of the amounts are realistically not worth the time/hassle/postage to claim:

While others, like the utilities deposit from our first apartment together, probably are:

In skimming through, unclaimed utility deposits seem to be pretty common. I mentioned this to my mom (who used to work for a utility company) and her instant response was:

“Oh! So that’s how that works! Our accounts payable person used to just forward all deposits to the State automatically, said it was less expensive.”

So there’s that.

Finding Unclaimed Property by State

There are many services that purport to handle this for you, but I can’t speak to the value of them. You can search for free in every state, and based on my sampling (of the seven states I’ve lived or worked in as an adult), the sites themselves are pretty usable:

The processes for claiming the property seem to vary by state and type/amount of property, and some may require you to send in additional paperwork. Others may not be able to be finalized until we’re out from under stay-at-home restrictions. But you can at least look.

Bottom line

Is this the most fun you can have on the Internet? No. Is it likely to be highly lucrative for most people? Also no.

But since at this point many of us have already organized our spice drawers, watched everything on tv, and need a short break from trying to figure out what is even going on with the small business recovery packages, it’s a way to spend a few minutes that is at least somewhat interesting, and potentially profitable.

Besides, you might be able to end your version of this story with “and then I found $5.” 😉

Please share what (if anything) you’re able to recover in the comments!

Comments
  1. Because of this I found my mom $5,300 In stock from 1997! Thank you so much for sharing this!

  2. @Warren Thomas

    At first i read your comment thought it was one of those scams, til I realized you weren’t trying to sell me something…

  3. @David that’s a good point. Make sure you run the search for your business too. I found a bunch for my dad’s company th me first time I found the site

  4. For myself I found 3 amounts totalling less than $2, however for my husband there was $79 so worth getting off my butt and claiming.

  5. Tiffany, this was an AWESOME heads-up about this!

    Found money for my parents, my in-laws, my sister, and my cousin!

    Thank you!!

  6. Wooo! $61.08 from AT&T dating back to the 1990s. Must have been a long distance service deposit on one of my college apartments. Thanks for the heads-up!

  7. This might not actually be the best time to surge state employees with these requests. Your $37 will still be there when the pandemic has ceased.

  8. If you have a free credit karma account they have a tool that will link you to each state’s unclaimed funds page. I did this a year ago and found $200 for my brother and a few thousand for my dad from some very old life insurance policy from a relative that named him as a beneficiary.

    https://www.creditkarma.com/unclaimed-money/

  9. woo – I found $18.43 (listed under my exact name and current address, so I have no idea why it’s in this system)

  10. My cousin’s husband brought this to my attention a few months ago…and I found thousands of dollars that my grandfather was owed! Unfortunately, our claim is still open and I’m not expecting us to get it anytime soon. This is in CA, FYI.

  11. Make sure you check it for deceased relatives too. I found monies for my father and was able to get them for my siblings and myself.

  12. Also check the state of Delaware where many big banks are headquartered – I found $30 from credit card overpayment check that I had forgotten to cash. I have never lived in Delaware.

  13. I found $0.08. Years ago one of my credit cards had a credit balance, and they sent me a check for the 8 cents which I didn’t cash. I thought it showed a lack of common sense and a waste of money to pay the postage for such a small amount. Now look at all the administrative costs that I created. My bad.

  14. I was shocked to find a little over $2,000, tied to an old address from over 5 years ago but apparently reported in 2019. Absolutely no clue where that money is from, what for, etc., but definitely was worth the click for me!!

  15. Gave this a try, even though I’m usually very good at keeping track of rebates, deposits, and whatnot, and whatdoyaknow, turns out I have $100 being kept for me at the PA Treasury! Thanks for the tip!

  16. I knew about this before but the only property I had was 72 cents from an American Express gift card.

  17. I found $0.11 for my dad (Classmates settlement, lol) and an unknown amount for my grandma. I’ll help her submit it and see how much she gets!

  18. Thanks Tiffany, appreciate the heads up on checking this; had ‘over $50.00’ from state of MO!

  19. I did this a few month ago. Unfortunately, I found that NY wouldn’t tell you how much the amount was, you actually had to file. Ended up getting back $47 last month from a cruise I took in 2012. Better than nothing.

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