How to Collect Unclaimed Money

Bank interest checks, employment and pension checks, Social Security and dividends are left unclaimed each year. The total amount of unclaimed funds is unknown, since numerous agencies are responsible for the unpaid money, including the Internal Revenue Service, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, Social Security Administration, Bureau of Public Debt, Housing and Urban Development and the Railroad Retirement Board. Individual states also hold unclaimed funds. Money is held for a specified number of years, depending on the agency, and each office has requirements for collection.

How to Collect Unclaimed Money

Check state offices for funds. Each state has an office to manage unclaimed funds. The Departments of Treasury or State Controllers are usually responsible for supervising the returns. U.S. Post Office undeliverable checks are delivered to state agencies.

Check former banks or credit unions for possible unclaimed funds.

Using the links below, check federal agencies for unclaimed monies. For a list of federal agencies that may have funds, check the “US Government Manual,” available from the Help or Information Desk at most public libraries and state universities.

Print any document that shows a refund is due to the searcher.

Telephone for any updates for collection, if a number is available. In some cases this is listed on the website.

Copy a driver’s license and a document with the name and address of the person listed. These items are required by all agencies when attempting to collect funds. Print applications from each website. These are usually formatted as PDFs. There are numerous types of claim forms, so be sure to match the form with the funds. Fill in the required information using black or navy ink.

Many applications require the document to be notarized. Locate a notary and bring an official document (some states require two documents) bearing a photograph and official documentation proving that the address listed on the unclaimed funds matches the claimer at the time the document was not delivered. Local banks and credit unions frequently offer notary services for a nominal fee.

Read the directions carefully, since a handful of agencies allow scanned documents to be sent via email and other agencies require the application to mailed. It is advisable to send the documents to the agency by certified mail.

Follow up on the application. Several states, such as Indiana, have tracking services to update progress. If this is not provided, wait six to eight weeks and call the agency to determine the progress of the application.


  • Have patience in checking individual agencies. The search is time-consuming due to the lack of one central link, but it may prove to be well worth the effort. Frequently, the names and addresses of friends and family members are located during the search.