Consumer Reports: Finding 'lost' money

August 6, 2010 8:33:35 PM PDT
It's tantalizing?the idea that you could have money that's sitting around just waiting for you to claim. There are, in fact, almost $33 billion in unclaimed assets being held by states and other agencies. Unclaimed money can come from any number of sources?forgotten bank accounts or safe deposit boxes, uncashed paychecks.

There are so-called "finder firms" that can help you find unclaimed assets. While those firms might be able find your money a bit faster, there are fees involved. And Consumer Reports Money Adviser says you can find forgotten assets without spending a dime.

Your first stop should be a website called MissingMoney.com. It has records from 35 states and the District of Columbia and links to the remaining state agencies, which safeguard a lot of unclaimed property.

An increasing number of databases can help you find other lost assets, including:

- Pensions and 401K plans

- Accounts at failed financial institutions

- U.S. savings bonds

Be aware that only you can claim your money, and for that you'll need proof of your identity. Also be prepared to spend some time filling out paperwork.

One thing you don't need to worry about is your assets disappearing. States and the federal government have to keep the assets until they're claimed.

For more information on how to find lost assets, go to www.consumerreports.org/cro/money/credit-loan/forgotten-assets/overview/index.htm.

Consumer Reports has no commercial relationship with any advertiser or sponsor appearing on this Web site.


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