If the government owes you money and you do not collect it, then it’s unclaimed. This also applies to banks, credit unions, pensions, and other sources. Learn where to look for unclaimed money and how you can avoid scams related to unclaimed funds.
Where to Look for Unclaimed Money
Currently, the government does not have one central website for finding unclaimed money by name, Social Security number, or state. To find unclaimed money from the government, start with your state. Then you can check a number of other sources, such as:
States’ Unclaimed Money
- Search by State – Search your state’s listing of unclaimed funds and property.
Unclaimed Back Wages
- Unpaid Wages – If you think you may be owed back wages from your employer, search the Wage and Hour Division’s (WHD’s) database of workers for whom it has money waiting to be claimed. WHD is a part of the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL).
- VA Life Insurance Funds – Search the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) for unclaimed insurance funds that are owed to certain current or former policyholders or their beneficiaries. Note: This does not include funds from Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance (SGLI) or Veterans’ Group Life Insurance (VGLI) policies from 1965 to the present.
- Pensions from Former Employers – Search for unclaimed pension money from companies that went out of business or ended a defined plan.
- Tax Refunds – The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) may owe you money if your refund was unclaimed or undelivered.
Banking, Investments, and Currency
- Bank Failures – Search the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) for unclaimed funds from failed financial institutions.
- Credit Union Failures – Find unclaimed deposits from credit unions.
- SEC Claims Funds – The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) lists enforcement cases where a company or person owes investors money.
- Damaged Money – The Treasury Department will exchange mutilated or damaged U.S. currency.
- FHA-Insurance Refunds – If you had an FHA-insured mortgage, you may be eligible for a refund from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). To search the HUD database, you will need your FHA case number (three digits, a dash, and the next six digits—for example, 051-456789).
- Calculate the Value – Find the value of your paper savings bond.
- Replace a Savings Bond – Replace a lost, stolen, or destroyed paper savings bond.
- Foreign Claims – U.S. nationals can find money owed to them from foreign governments after loss of property.
Unclaimed Money Scams
Beware of people who pretend to be the government and offer to send you unclaimed money for a fee. These scammers use a variety of tricks to get your attention, but their goal is the same: to get you to send them money. Government agencies will not call you about unclaimed money or assets.
- The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) provides tips on how you can avoid government imposter scams.
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Every year, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has millions of dollars in tax refunds that go undelivered or unclaimed.
Undelivered Federal Tax Refund Checks
Refund checks are mailed to your last known address. If you move without notifying the IRS or the U.S. Postal Service (USPS), your refund check may be returned to the IRS.
If you were expecting a federal tax refund and did not receive it, check the IRS’ Where’s My Refundpage. You’ll need to enter your Social Security number, filing status, and the exact whole dollar amount of your refund. You may be prompted to change your address online.
You can also call the IRS to check on the status of your refund. Wait times to speak with a representative can be long. But you can avoid the wait by using the automated phone system. Follow the message prompts when you call.
If you move, submit a Change of Address – Form 8822 (PDF, Download Adobe Reader) to the IRS; you should also submit a Change of Address to the USPS.
Unclaimed Federal Tax Refunds
If you are eligible for a federal tax refund and do not file a return, then your refund will go unclaimed. Even if you aren’t required to file a return, it might benefit you to file if:
- Federal taxes were withheld from your pay
- You qualify for the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC)
If you didn’t file a tax return because your wages were below the filing requirement, you can still file a return within three years of the filing deadline in order to get your refund.
State Refund Checks
For information about your state tax refund check, contact your state revenue department.