A Network of the National Association of State Treasurers
A Network of the National Association of State Treasurers

Learn about Unclaimed Property

Is it really free to search?

Yes! It is free to search for and claim your missing money! 

There is no fee to search for and claim your unclaimed property—if you use your official state program. Each state has laws and unclaimed property programs that make this service available to its citizens.

IMPORTANT: There are, however, third-party “finders” that may offer to locate and claim your unclaimed property for you. While not required to obtain your unclaimed property, these third-party services are in most cases legal. More information is provided below.

Be sure you are leveraging your state's official unclaimed property program

The NAUPA website provides a link to each state's official unclaimed property program.

To ensure you are not paying a fee to search for and claim your missing money, be sure to conduct your search with your state’s official unclaimed property program. In most cases, the state’s program is managed by the state treasury. You can conduct a free search on the program’s website. States also offer outreach programs to help reunite owners with their unclaimed property.

You can also conduct a free, online search of all states at once using MissingMoney.com, an official website of NAUPA. If there is a match in any state, MissingMoney.com will provide a link to that state’s official program.

female happy on tablet device at home

Third-party finder organizations 

Have you received a letter saying you owe a fee in order to search for or claim your missing money?

Unclaimed property finders or "locators"

There are legitimate organizations that offer unclaimed property finder services for a fee​

Many businesses, sometimes called finders or locators, offer to find legitimate lost property for owners and inform them of how to obtain it for a fee—usually a percentage of the total find.  Some states limit the maximum fee.

Are finder organizations regulated?

Many states require finders to register within the state or regulate business activity or licensing in some way. There may even be a public listing of regulated finders within the state.  Be sure to check your state’s unclaimed property finder laws for information on finders practicing within your state.

senior couple reviewing letters at home
female studying material on laptop

How did they get my information?

With the freedom of information act and other methods, finding unclaimed property owner information is relatively easy

Third-party finders often use the states’ freedom of information acts to obtain owner information. Many states do not provide complete records to these firms to protect your privacy. 

Sometimes, the organization holding your unclaimed property (ex., bank, utilities company) will hire a third-party finder to locate you before the organization is required to turn the unclaimed property over to the state. 

What to expect and avoiding scams

Be cautious before signing contracts with third-party organizations

The unclaimed property locator will likely ask you to sign a contract. The majority of firms that provide these services work within the law, but there are also many unclaimed property scams across the United States.

States typically require third-party unclaimed property finders to register within the state, as well as become licensed as a finder. Be sure to check with your state to ensure any third-party finder you are considering is registered and legitimate.

contract term document with pen

The bottom line

You may pay third-party organizations to search if you wish—and for some, this is advantageous.  However, remember that all the information is accessible free of charge by searching each state’s unclaimed property database or MissingMoney.com, or by contacting the state’s unclaimed property office.