-- I still get emails. Four years later. People asking me to help them find their unclaimed money. That’s how I know my now-ancient "Good Morning America" series, where we reunited viewers with their unclaimed money, made an impact. I’ve told you WHERE to search for unclaimed money in past articles. Now let me tell you HOW, step-by-step. It’s quick and easy but if you want to really know you’ve covered all your bases, this is the method:
1. Search the state where you live. First go to MissingMoney.com and fill in your name and state of residence. Unclaimed funds are usually held where you live, so this is where you begin. Hit “go” and see if you get any hits from this initial effort. If your state does not participate with this site, continue to step 2.
2. Search multiple states. On the top right of MissingMoney.com, after you’ve searched your home state, you will see a box pop up that says “Search all states and provinces.” This search actually allows you to check just 39 states plus the District of Columbia and some territories and Canadian provinces because not all U.S. states participate. This is important because sometimes unclaimed money is held in a state where you used to live or in the state where the company is based. Once again, hit “go” and see what you find.
3. Search other states. To be thorough, you can search directly with the 11 states that don’t participate with MissingMoney. You should definitely do this if you’ve lived in any of them: Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, New York, Oregon, South Carolina and Wyoming. To do this, go to Unclaimed.org (NOTE, that is .org NOT .com). Click a state on the map and it will link you to that state’s unclaimed money page.
With all three of these steps, if you see unclaimed accounts that belong to you, simply follow the instructions for claiming them. Guess what? In the process of writing this column, I even found a small one for myself! A gift certificate that was never used. You can often make small claims like that completely online. Larger ones may require hard copy paperwork and proof. Let me know how this 3-step approach works for you by posting in the comment section below. Good luck!
Elisabeth Leamy is a 20-year consumer advocate for programs such as "Good Morning America" and "The Dr. Oz Show." She is the author of Save BIG and The Savvy Consumer. Elisabeth is also a professional speaker, delivering talks nationwide on saving money, media relations, and career success. Elisabeth receives her best story tips from readers, so please share your ideas with her via Facebook, Twitter or her website.
Any opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author.