PenChecks Blog

Businesses Can Find Missing Money Too!

There’s a lot happening in the world of unclaimed property. The Little Book of Missing Money: A Quick and Easy Guide to Finding Money that is Rightfully Yours, 4th Edition has all the details just in time for National Find Your Missing Money Day, which is April 16.

Some of the highlights include:

  • There are 22 states that are trying to get access to savings bonds, some of which are decades old.
  • California has filed a class action lawsuit to get dormant cryptocurrency accounts.
  • The 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund has a deadline for filing coming up. Once that deadline passes the victim or their survivor cannot file a claim.

The typical “missing money” story focuses on individuals. No one ever tells the story of businesses with unclaimed property. But believe me, there are plenty of them out there. From mom and pop stores to corporate giants, there are millions of unclaimed property listings for businesses. For example, a search of a large financial institution I conducted on the New York unclaimed property web site turned up 4,921 listings in New York alone. They probably have far more than that because finding any listings in New York before 1985 requires calling the unclaimed property office and asking them to look it up. (This is true of most states, though the date may vary.)

Nearly every financial institution, both past and present, has unclaimed property listings gathering digital dust. To find out if your bank or institution might be entitled to some unclaimed property, go to www.unclaimed.org and look up your business. Once there, click on the state where your headquarters are, then any state where you do business. If your financial institution has taken over other entities and changed those names, be sure to look under the original name. Browsing this list of bank takeovers that goes back to 1900 can help identify other names to search for that are appropriate for your institution.

How to Search for Your Institution
Another important point is to search under more than just the exact business name. For example, if your business name is composed of two names, such as Harley-Davidson, you also want to search using the last name/first name technique. Search once under Harley Davidson, and again under Davidson Harley.

Also, try searching on close approximations of the company name, with one or two typos in the spelling – especially if you have a name that is frequently misspelled. You may be surprised what turns up. In the New York company I searched on, the last name/first name search turned up nearly 2,000 of the almost 5,000 results. The misspelling search turned up nearly 500.

This represents but one example of the thousands of listings for banks, brokerages, insurance companies and more that remain forgotten long after the takeovers. Considering that one company in one state generated nearly 5,000 listings, the magnitude of unclaimed property in this country is staggering.

Be A Hero to Your Customers
Despite their numbers, financial institutions are just the tip of the iceberg. Within the retirement plan industry, there are thousands of TPAs, RIAs, record keepers and plan sponsors with unclaimed property just waiting to be reunited with their previous owners.

Even more interesting, there are sometimes customers listed in the address. For example: F/B/O; As trustee of IRA for ___; IRA UA Jun 15 94. This makes it impossible for the customers to find their listings with a simple name search.

You can make a difference. Help your company and your customers by searching for unclaimed property under your business name. You just might collect money for your business. And you could be a hero to your customers, both current and former, by reuniting them with lost funds they didn’t know about.

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Mary Pitman is the author of The Little Book of Missing Money: A Quick and Easy Guide to Finding Money That is Rightfully Yours, 4th Edition. To contact her email marycpitman@gmail.com.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of PenChecks Trust, its subsidiaries or affiliates.

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