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Aside from stimulus checks, your state may owe you hundreds of dollars – how to find out

Published Jun 14th, 2021 1:13PM EDT
Unclaimed money
Image: methaphum/Adobe

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While millions of Americans wait to receive the first of a new series of monthly stimulus checks starting next month — and to see whether or not the federal government ever gets behind the idea of a fourth stimulus check — there are actually plenty of other ways to squeeze money out of the government right now.

For example, your state actually might be holding on to unclaimed money at the moment with your name on it, and without you even realizing it. State government websites include a link whereby residents can check to see if they have unclaimed property that they need to claim. Just a few days ago, in fact, South Carolina launched a “Matchelor” messaging campaign inspired by the return of the ABC reality series The Bachelorette that’s meant to reunite people with unclaimed funds. “At the State Treasurer’s Office, we have a team of committed Matchelors and Matchelorettes who actively work to match people with their unclaimed funds every day, but with more than a million accounts, we can’t do it alone,” South Carolina State Treasurer Curtis Loftis said in a news release. “We’re reminding folks to search our website to see if they can find their perfect match and be reunited with their long-lost Benjamins, Hamiltons, or Lincolns.”

To be clear, this can mean significant sums of money for some people. According to the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators, for example, the average claim paid in 2019 was $1,780, and unclaimed property programs returned more than $3 billion overall that same year. And it’s not always money, either, that the states are holding on to:

Per that same report, the Tennessee State Treasurer’s Office returned a Purple Heart earned more than 70 years ago to a soldier’s family, while Arkansas State Auditor Andrea Lea searched for the rightful owner of love letters sent home during WWII.

Around 1 in 10 Americans, believe it or not, have unclaimed property that they’re owed. In other examples, New York State says it’s holding on to a whopping $16.5 billion in lost and unclaimed property, and that already in 2021 the state has returned more than $191.5 million to owners as of the time of this writing. In most US states, it won’t cost anything to search for or to retrieve your property, no matter what state you live in, and you can start with your state treasurer’s office or begin your search here. That link opens up a graphic of the US that will take you to the correct database you need to search in, for whatever state is applicable to you.

Some sites let you perform searches across multiple states — like the Missing Money website, which has gotten an endorsement from the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators and lets users search 39 states. Similarly, the site FindMyFunds lets you search across 25 states and the District of Columbia, and it includes links to official unclaimed property sites for states not included in its results.

Andy Meek Trending News Editor

Andy Meek is a reporter based in Memphis who has covered media, entertainment, and culture for over 20 years. His work has appeared in outlets including The Guardian, Forbes, and The Financial Times, and he’s written for BGR since 2015. Andy's coverage includes technology and entertainment, and he has a particular interest in all things streaming.

Over the years, he’s interviewed legendary figures in entertainment and tech that range from Stan Lee to John McAfee, Peter Thiel, and Reed Hastings.