During the holiday season we could all use a little extra cash. It is possible that you have some money sitting on the table and you don’t even know it. There are programs in states around the country to help you find lost cash. Personal assets are often left sitting in inactive accounts in banks and credit unions or retrieved from refunded deposits for rent and utilities. In fact, one in 10 people nationwide have unclaimed property, according to the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators (NAUPA). Other claims include lost money in the form of uncashed checks, rebates, tax refunds, life insurance, credit balances, and dormant safe deposit boxes.

Sounds bizarre, but for a variety of reasons, people leave money or have no idea they have money sitting with a financial organization. The NAUPA claims that $3 billion in assets are returned to owners every year. You may have cash with an entity and not even know it. Military are especially vulnerable, with the constant moving, buying and selling of homes and other financial products.

Start Your Money Trail

USA.gov has a page dedicated to unclaimed money where you can start your quest for spare change you may have left behind. When I first saw an advertisement to ‘Join Florida’s Treasure Hunt’ I was extremely skeptical and thought to myself this has got to be a scam  Then I looked a little closer and realized that this was a .gov website. I did some more investigation and found out I could easily check to see if I had money sitting with an organization somewhere.

I quickly found about $150 for a friend. This money was from a cancelled insurance policy. They had unknowingly paid an additional couple of months of premiums. Her husband then found money from an account he had forgotten about. I found over $300 unclaimed on my grandfather’s estate. I informed my father, who is currently working with the state to prove that he was the executor for the estate. Once he has accomplished this task, he can claim the money and distribute the funds to his siblings. I have found around $90 for a cousin, which he is currently investigating. Alas, I found nothing for myself or my family.

How to Spot a Scam

These are free, legitimate searches, so there’s no need to pay money to a third party to perform this task. Many sites look genuine, but they will request payment. Watch out for these nefarious assistants. Should you find treasure belonging to you, the second step is to submit a claim. This usually requires some personal information, such as an address and contact information. However, you will probably have to prove ownership of the property, as well, especially if it belonged to deceased family member.

As a military family, it is important to check all the states in which you have resided. Between frequent moves, multiple residences and the business of military life, you may cash waiting for you to help pay those holiday bills. Happy Hunting!

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Jay Hicks is an author, instructor and consultant. With a special kinship for military personnel, Jay provides guidance on successful civilian career transition and has co-authored “The Transitioning Military Series”. He is the co-founder of Gr8Transitions4U, where advocating the value of hiring military personnel is the key focus. More about Jay and his passion can be found at Gr8Transitions4U.com.