NBC senior business correspondent Stephanie Ruhle has been giving us tips all month on how to save money and get back on track with our spending, including how to shrink our grocery bills and clean up our spending (comfort spending during the pandemic, anyone?). Ruhle also shared some amazing tips on how to find hidden money — something we could all use these days! There's no catch, and finding and getting money that is actually owed to you is easier than you think.
"One in ten people have unclaimed property," said Ruhle. "In other words, one in ten people are entitled to free money."
What exactly is "unclaimed property" you might be wondering? Any savings or checking accounts, stocks and uncashed dividends qualify.
"If a business, government office or other sources owes you money that you don't collect it's considered unclaimed," said Ruhle.
Some common forms of unclaimed property include:
- Checking accounts
- Uncashed dividends
"The U.S. has billions of dollars in unclaimed property," said Ruhle. One of the first places you should look for bonus cash is your tax refund.
"When the IRS mails a refund check to an incorrect address, the postal service will return it to sender," said Ruhle. "The burden will be on you to follow up about your refund."
This often happens when people move but never update their address with the IRS. Fortunately, you can check this online by going to www.irs.gov/refunds and clink on "get refund status." You'll then be instructed to input your social security number, your filing status and the refund amount you never received, advised Ruhle.
Beyond unclaimed tax refunds, there are other places to search for hidden money in your name.
"You may be owed unpaid wages if your employer broke labor laws," said Ruhle. "The Department of Labor may have recovered them for you. The agency then makes every effort to locate and notify you but if they cannot find you they hold your wages for up to three years," she said. "To find out if you are owed any unpaid wages you can do a "WOW search" which stands for Workers Owed Wages. You can search for these on the Department of Labor website."
Old bank accounts can also be a source of found money. "If you left money in an old account at a bank that closed you can still get your money back," said Ruhle. "The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation has a bank finder tool. There you can search your old bank all the way back to 1934 and see if there is a new financial institution you can contact about your money."
Another option to try if you believe you have unclaimed money left in a bank account is to check MissingMoney.com or Unclaimed.org, both operated by the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators, said Ruhle.
These same sites can be used if you're curious about any other hidden money in your name that you could be owed. Ruhle also advised to beware of any third party vendors that ask you for a fee to find your money. You shouldn't have to pay to find hidden funds and certainly should not turn over a percentage of your found money before it's even been given to you. Remember, it's your money, so go claim it!