11 Ways to Find Hidden Cash

Sure, you might come across a few quarters in your couch, but we know where to uncover more than a little loose change. Start looking for your unclaimed funds—you might be surprised at how much cash is waiting for you to find and claim!

safety deposit box

Find Unclaimed Funds From Safe-Deposit Box Items

Why it's M.I.A. You forgot about your bank box—or a relative died and no one knew she had a box.
Reclaim Them Ask the institution where you or your family member banked if there's a box in your (or her) name. The bank might require you to show that you have the deceased's power of attorney and might ask for your birth certificate, your loved one's death certificate and other documents. The contents of a long-inactive box might be at the state unclaimed property office (see unclaimed.org). If the bank has failed, contact the FDIC.

Find Unclaimed Funds From a Utility Deposit

Why it's M.I.A. You parted with that cash ages ago, and it's possibly the last thing you thought about in the midst of a move.
Reclaim It Call the utility providers for your past residences to see if they have any of your funds. If they don't but you suspect you never received a deposit back, they might have turned it over to the state comptroller's office (find contacts on unclaimed.org).

Find Unclaimed Funds From Class-Action Lawsuit Proceeds

Why it's M.I.A. A class-action suit is a case brought against a company on behalf of a group (customers of a business that sold defective goods, say). Often, people are part of the "class" without knowing it, so they miss out on their share of the award. Billions of dollars of class-action lawsuit funds go unclaimed.
Reclaim Them Because most such lawsuits are filed in federal court, the funds are not listed on state websites. Visit topclassactions.com to learn about pending and recently settled suits and whether you qualify for a cut. You'll likely be asked to fill out a form if you think you belong to the group.

Find Unclaimed Funds From a Foreclosure

Why it's M.I.A. If you lost your home to foreclosure and it was sold for more than what you owed, you're entitled to the difference. You also might have left without a forwarding address before the checks were sent.
Reclaim It If the sale was made to satisfy a tax bill, call the tax assessor; such funds don't always go to the state. Also check with the municipality's court clerk.

Find Unclaimed Funds From a Pension

Why it's M.I.A. You were at that job a lifetime ago or you can't locate the plan because the firm changed its name or went out of business.
Reclaim It Fortunately, a government agency—the Pension Guaranty Benefit Corp.—tracks, protects and insures most private pensions. For information, visit search.pbgc.gov/mp. Federal employees should check out the Federal Employee Retirement System and Civil Service Retirement System at opm.gov/retirement-services.

Find Unclaimed Funds From Stocks

Why it's M.I.A. The actual paper stock certificate, which might have been a childhood gift, was misplaced at some point.
Reclaim It Check unclaimed.org. Any shares purchased before you turned 18 might be in a parent's name, so check that, too. Can't find it but pretty sure you own it? The federal Securities Exchange Commission requires due diligence by companies to search for lost shareholders. It's best to return to unclaimed.org every few months, as there could be a lag before assets are listed.

Find Unclaimed Funds From an Income Tax Refund

Why it's M.I.A. Maybe you moved—without a forwarding address—and never received an IRS check. Or perhaps you simply misplaced it. Or you might have earned too little that year to have to file, but the IRS still owes you money.
Reclaim It Ask the IRS to reissue your uncashed check. Also, make sure you filed a return for any years you worked, regardless of your income level, because your employer likely withheld taxes.

Sources: Mary Pitman, author of The Little Book of Missing Money: A Quick and Easy Guide to Finding Money That Is Rightfully Yours; Jeff Richman, president, U.S. Financial Funding in Charlotte, N.C.; Richard Rosso, a certified financial planner and money manager in Houston