6 tips for finding unclaimed money

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Billions of dollars in unclaimed money -- from lost insurance refunds to forgotten apartment security deposits -- is waiting for its rightful owners in the United States, and "Good Morning America" is working with individual states to help connect Americans across the country with their unclaimed money.

There are also online tools you can use to see if there are any forgotten funds in your name.

Try the resources and tips below to see what unclaimed cash could be waiting for you.

1. Start with the states.

Searching locally, across the 50 states and the District of Columbia, is the most efficient way to find unclaimed funds.

The National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators (NAUPA) has a free website at www.unclaimed.org that will link you to the appropriate department in your state that holds funds from things like abandoned safety deposit boxes or uncashed overtime checks. (Please note that this is a .org website, not .com. The .com site is NOT affiliated with NAUPA.)

You should search every state where you and your family have lived. Unclaimed.org also includes information on unclaimed funds in Puerto Rico, Guam, Quebec, British Columbia and Kenya.

Another site, www.missingmoney.com, offers a free search for participating states and provinces. This site allows you to search more than one state at a time by selecting "all states and provinces" on the drop-down menu.

2. Skip the fees.

Keep in mind when conducting your search that it is not necessary to pay a fee to track down unclaimed money. The resources for finding your lost funds are free.

3. Search federal tax refunds.

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has a "Where's My Refund" feature on its website at www.irs.gov/refunds. The feature allows you to search your missing income tax refund check by entering a few simple items like your social security number and the amount you are owed.

4. Search credit union accounts.

The National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) website allows you to track down money that was in a federally insured credit union that failed. The best time to search for lost funds is within 18 months of the credit union being liquidated. You can search either by your name or by your state and territory. Click HERE to search.

5. Search retirement money.

There is a federal agency, the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC), that protects some pensions from companies that went under. Click HERE to search for your own or a family member's missing pension.

For companies that still exist or have been bought out, it is best to contact the company directly.

Another federal agency, the Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA), also helps make sure retirement money is reunited with its rightful owners. Find resources and tips on the agency's website by selecting "Retirement" in the drop-down menu under "Key Topics."

6. Search for veterans' funds.

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has a feature on its website that allows veterans and their family members to search for unclaimed insurance funds. The money is owed to individuals the department has not been able to locate and applies only to certain insurance policies. Click HERE to search.