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Clicking for Cash

Kristine Hayes

A FEW YEARS AGO, I searched a government database of unclaimed assets—and was surprised to discover the state of Oregon owed me money. I submitted a claim and waited a few weeks.

A check for $86 arrived. The funds were from royalties I’d earned from a YouTube channel that I’d long since forgotten about.

It’s estimated that one out of 10 Americans has unclaimed property waiting for them. A variety of websites allow anyone to search databases filled with unclaimed property, uncashed checks, forgotten bank accounts, returned security deposits, tax refunds and long-forgotten savings bonds.

Intrigued by the idea of searching for found money? Here are some tips:

  • If you’ve had multiple legal names, search under all of them. It may be useful to look for common misspellings of your first and last name. Also, search under any nicknames you may have used.
  • If you’ve ever operated a business, you can search for unclaimed assets owed to the business. You might also check under the names of elderly relatives, including your parents.
  • If you’ve lived in different states, check the unclaimed property websites for each one. The National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators maintains a website that provides access to every state’s unclaimed property portal.
  • The Bureau of the Fiscal Service has its own website with information about searching for unclaimed funds held by federal agencies. The U.S. Treasury recently created a site where you can search for savings bonds that are no longer earning interest but that haven’t yet been redeemed.

Unclaimed property isn’t limited to money. Some states, including Oregon, will attempt to return military medals and insignia to their rightful owners. Other states want to return the contents of forgotten safe-deposit boxes.

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