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Unclaimed money: Here's how to find it

Everybody's had it happen at one time or another.

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You put on a jacket that's been in the back of the closet, put your hand in the pocket and touch something with the distinctive feel of paper money. Or maybe you're unloading the dryer and there's a very clean, very crisp $10 bill.

Fun, isn't it?

Well, imagine finding hundreds, or even thousands, of dollars.

Billions and billions
The National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators reports that billions of dollars in cash and valuables are waiting for the rightful owners to claim them. The association estimates that one of every eight Americans has a legitimate claim to money from old bank accounts, stocks and bonds, uncashed paychecks, utility deposits and other sources.

The Internet has made it easier than ever to track down missing money, even money you didn't know you were owed. Here's what you need to do to redeem several kinds of potentially valuable assets:

For old bank accounts, contents of safe-deposit boxes, certificates of deposit, uncashed checks, etc., use Bankrate's state-by-state listing of unclaimed property offices.

FDIC treasure trove
Another place to check is the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, better known as the FDIC, which insures bank deposits up to $100,000 or up to $250,000 for retirement accounts.

"If you're going through your records or a relative for whom you're a guardian, you may come across some old bank records that indicate some money is there, but the bank seems long gone," says David Barr, spokesman for the FDIC. "The bank could have failed or been bought out by someone else."

You can trace the history of a banking institution at the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council's National Information Center.

If the bank has a new owner, you can contact them to see if they have any record of the account.

If it's failed, the FDIC may have the funds. You can call the toll-free consumer hotline at (877) ASK-FDIC (275-3342). If the account is more than 10 years old, the money will probably be at the state treasurer's office listed as unclaimed property.

Savings bonds
You can find out which savings bonds are no longer earning interest at the U.S. government's savings bonds site and checking the issue date of the bond. If you're listed as an owner or beneficiary on the bond and want to cash it in, you can go to any bank that pays savings bonds.

If the bond is in the name of someone who's died, it's the property of the estate and you'll need to show proof that you're executor or the court-appointed representative of the estate.

The details on the necessary documents are listed here.

Stock certificates
If you're going through old family documents and find stock certificates, you could be looking at a serious chunk of change.

Ownership is determined by the name on the certificate, says John Nester, spokesman for the Securities and Exchange Commission, the federal agency that regulates the sale of securities, and you'll have to prove you have the right to the property.

Next: "There are some other routes to try, as well."
Page | 1 | 2 |
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