Money

Free money?! How to find and claim your family's unclaimed funds

If you think it's a lucky day when you find a $20 bill in your jacket pocket, or some extra change under a couch cushion, then just wait — there could be a whole lot more money waiting with a few clicks online.

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Free money?! How to find and claim your family’s unclaimed funds

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Free money?! How to find and claim your family’s unclaimed funds

Play Video - 3:42

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There is currently $42 billion in unclaimed funds floating around in the United States, according to the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators (NAUPA).

Unclaimed funds are accounts in financial institutions or companies that have had no activity generated or contact with the owner for a year or longer, most commonly in savings or checking accounts, stocks, uncashed dividends, security deposits, IRS refunds and more.

Here are TODAY financial editor Jean Chatzky's tips on how you can find out if you have any unclaimed funds — and how to file a claim:

  1. Do a free search on the websites MissingMoney.com and Unclaimed.org, which are both endorsed by NAUPA. The sites feature collective records from all state-held unclaimed property.
  2. Check the treasury website for the state you live in and any other ones you have resided in in the past.
  3. When doing the search, make sure to type in all the places you have lived. Also, if you're married, make sure to check under your maiden name as well. Using a first initial and your last name is also encouraged to make sure everything comes up.
  4. It's up to you if you want to use a third-party service to claim your money, but it's not required. Each state has its own process, which usually takes three to four months and requires information like your social security number and more. If you choose to use a locator business to claim your money in order to avoid doing the paperwork yourself, don't pay up front. Also, don't pay the company more than 10 percent or 20 percent of the amount of money you are claiming.

Other sites you can search for unclaimed money:

  • Search IRS.gov for any possible refund money from the Internal Revenue Service because undeliverable mail is often an issue for the IRS.
  • In a search for any unclaimed pension money, the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. has a searchable database to find an unclaimed pension.
  • Treasuryhunt.gov will help you search for any unclaimed savings bonds and payments.
  • For any potentially unclaimed life insurance claims or payments, check your individual insurer's website.

Follow TODAY.com writer Scott Stump on Twitter and Google+.

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