Are you missing money? How to find out if you have unclaimed property in California

Every year, millions of dollars that should be in Americans’ pockets are instead being held by the government until the rightful owners come forward.

It’s called “unclaimed property” and can range from a few dollars to thousands of dollars.

So what is unclaimed property?

If you are owed money by a business, government agency, or other source that you choose not to collect, the US government considers it uncollected.

Former employers may also be responsible.

Have you ever worked a few days, left abruptly, and then not picked up your paycheck? If the answer is yes, the government is probably sticking with it for you.

Unpaid wages are just one example of what the government considers unclaimed property.

If you’ve ever belonged to a failed financial institution or overpaid a utility bill, money could be waiting for you.

It can also be in the form of old bank accounts, stocks, trust funds, uncashed bank checks or money orders, or even uncollected tax returns.

How to find out if you have unclaimed money

In California, the state must do its best to contact you and let you know you’re missing money, but sometimes those efforts get nowhere.

“Contact is often lost when the owner forgets the account exists or moves and doesn’t leave a forwarding address. In some cases, the owner dies with heirs unaware of the property,” according to the California State Controller’s Office.

If the state doesn’t succeed, it’s your job to find out if you have any property waiting to be claimed.

Californians can search for unclaimed property on the Controller’s Office website. There are also detailed instructions on how to make a claim and what you need to do to prove your identity.

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But what if you’ve previously lived and worked outside of California? Fortunately, the majority of other states across the country can be searched through The website is supported by the federal government.

If you find that you have unclaimed property, you must file a claim and wait for your claim to be processed.

For a full breakdown of the different types of unclaimed property and how to find them, click here.

Newly claimed funds are usually issued in the form of a check, and it’s usually free to make a claim, although methods of verifying your identity vary from state to state.

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