Our Taking Action Event Lost & Found is paying off. But during the hype of finding long lost money, WHNT News 19 wants to make sure people understand, there are risks if you decide to pay a service to help you identify unclaimed property.
Michele Mason with our Better Business Bureau says you shouldn’t have to pay for what’s rightfully yours. “Keep in mind, said Mason, you don’t want to pay a fee to someone until you have checked them out, or until you have verified there is money in your name and that it has been secured.”
Alabama residents can begin their search with the Alabama Treasurer’s office at https://www.moneyquest.alabama.gov/.
To do a national search for lost property check legitimate sites like missingmoney.com, which is endorsed by the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators (NAUPA). This site has official records of unclaimed property from every state and most U.S. territories.
According to NAUPA, there are many businesses (sometimes called finders or locators) that find legitimate lost property for owners and inform them how to obtain it for a fee, usually a percentage of the total. In the state of Alabama it is 10%. Typically the finder will ask you to sign a contract and ask for personal information. This can open the door to identity theft if you’re not dealing with a reputable company.
Before signing any contract, your BBB recommends caution. If you’re unsure whether or not a firm is legitimate, click here to search for the company name or go the Alabama unclaimed property office for more information.
To prevent accumulating unclaimed property, NAUPA offers the following tips:
- Deposit or cash all checks for dividends, wages, insurance settlements, etc. without delay.
- Respond to legitimate requests for confirmation of account balances and stock holder proxies.
- If you have a safe deposit box, record its number, bank name and address, and give the extra key to a trusted person.
- Prepare and file a will detailing the disposition of your assets.