Over the years, you may have invested in projects that have fallen down the wayside, or squirreled some money away and not kept a track of it. Those small amounts may have been forgotten about for a long time, but there’s no time like the present to consolidate all of your finances and get a hold of that unclaimed money to boost your bank balance.
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The IRS and Government Funds
You’re mistaken if you think that the IRS is an all-seeing, all-knowing body. It may seem that they have a tight hold of everyone’s whereabouts, but if you haven’t informed them of a change of address or a change in your circumstances then you may be owed some unclaimed money. Surprisingly, millions of dollars have been left unclaimed in old bank accounts, forgotten 401(k) plans, pension plans and tax refunds where the IRS simply hasn’t been able to contact the recipient. In fact, in 2012 the IRS disclosed that they had $16 million in refunded tax checks!
Year on year, people are issued income tax refunds, but if your name or address has changed, or if the IRS has incomplete details, there’s a possibility that your check went straight back to them. Make sure that you contact the IRS if you think there’s a chance that you have unclaimed money due form them, or if you need to tell them about any changes to your circumstances.
Similarly, your state tax refunds may get lost or undelivered if your contact details aren’t correct. In particular, if you’ve moved to a different state then it’s very difficult for the old state that you lived in to get in contact with you. The website unclaimed.org can help you ascertain if you’re missing out on any unclaimed money.
The Treasury Department also has a mass of unclaimed money each year, claiming that they have about 25,000 payments returned annually as they can’t be delivered to their intended recipients. There are also billions of dollars of savings bonds that no longer pay interest, yet the owner hasn’t turn their bond in. If you have any bonds, check that they’re still earning interest, and if they’re not, look for the best opportunities to reinvest them or cash them in.
Forgotten Retirement and Insurance Funds
Nowadays it is much more likely for people to move from job to job, spending hardly any time at some. If you were part of a retirement plan during a period of employment, even a short one, that money is still there for you to accept as part of your retirement funds. Contact your old companies or look for the National Registry of Unclaimed Retirement Benefits to see if there’s a little nest egg somewhere that you’re missing out on. They can also help you if a loved one has passed away and you think they might have some unclaimed money to release to their beneficiaries.
If you had a retirement plan that went bust, all is not lost. The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC), which insures pension benefits, may owe you money. Look through your old papers and check out the PBGC’s website to see if any of your money is tied up with them.
As with pensions, life insurance is something that’s often overlooked as the years go by. If you owned a policy that demutualized then check with the company to see if you’re owed any cash or stock. You should also check if a close family member passes away that they don’t have any forgotten life insurance policies that could help their loved ones.
Old Bank Accounts
Although you may assume that that old bank account has been stagnant for years, that doesn’t mean that there’s no money left in there for you to claim. Just some of the things to consider are:
- Insurance premium refunds
- Dividend payments
- Escrow accounts
- Utility deposits
- Missing wages
- Valuables in old safety deposit boxes
Some of these may have been overlooked, especially if you moved house when you stopped using the account. Websites such as missingmoney.com can help you to check if you have any unclaimed money hiding in those old accounts.
If your bank was unlucky enough to collapse in the economic recession, any money that you had invested should have been protected by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC). Similarly, credit union customers are protected by the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA). Contact them if you think you’re eligible for a claim.
Even if you haven’t kept a close eye on your finances over the years, take the time now to go through any missing funds that may have escaped you, using this article as your guide. A little bit of time and effort can reap some very pleasing rewards to boost your bank balance.