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How to Claim Your Unclaimed Property without Losing Your Shirt

Image courtesy of MGN Online

Image courtesy of MGN Online

Do you have unclaimed property? If so, how would you know? Is it worth it to pay a service to help you identify unclaimed property? In most cases the research and reclamation can be done by you for little to no money.

Unclaimed property describes accounts in financial institutions and companies that have had no activity or account holder contact for one year or more. This can include savings or checking accounts, refunds, customer over-payments, contents of safe deposit boxes, etc. Alabama residents can begin their search with the Alabama Treasurer’s office at Money Quest Alabama.

To do a national search for lost property check legitimate sites like MissingMoney.com, 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, plus Alberta, British Columbia and Quebec in Canada. Check for property in every jurisdiction in which you have resided. It is free to search; however, you may have to pay a small fee to obtain the property.

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 (some states limit the fee to 10 percent). Sometimes, companies will hire these firms to find you before they turn the funds over to the state. Ultimately the finder will ask you to sign a contract.

The majority of firms that provide these services work within the law, but there are also some unclaimed property scams around. Before signing any contract, your BBB recommends caution. If you’re unsure whether or not a firm is legitimate, go to BBB.org or search for the company name or go the Alabama unclaimed property office for more information.

To prevent accumulating unclaimed property, NAUPA suggests 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.

For more information on how to recover unclaimed property, check out What Is Unclaimed Property.

Source: BBB North Alabama

To report a scam, go to the BBB Scam Tracker. To find trustworthy businesses, go to bbb.org.