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Money That Belongs to You May Be Hiding in the State Treasury—Here’s How to Get It Back

Plenty of people assume all the money that belongs to them is in their piggy bank. But even though we keep close track of our expenses and income, there still might be money out there that never actually reached you or just got lost in the shuffle: everything from the forgotten contents of a childhood savings account to a refund that never made it in our pockets. So, how do you check if you’re missing something, and, if you are due for a pay out, track down what’s yours?

The Massachusetts State Treasury makes it easy with their unclaimed property program, through which they are continuously looking for and finding the rightful owners of lost and forgotten money. In fact, in the past five years, they’ve reunited owners with more than 787 million dollars worth of unclaimed property.

So, how do you know if you’re one of those lucky people with unclaimed property in Massachusetts? It’s simple. Just enter your name, and see if there’s a match to your name and address. You can enter anyone’s name, so feel free to check for your loved ones—after all, we could all use a little pick-me-up now that summer’s over. “It’s like coming across a bill on the sidewalk,” says Adele M. 

Here’s some questions you may have, answered.

How did my money end up in the state treasury?

When a bank, insurance company, business, or other holder can’t contact a financial asset’s owner for three years or more, it’s required by law to turn the assets over to the state. The Commonwealth then attempts to reunite this money with its rightful owners (that’s you). Once claimed, you can do whatever you’d like with the money.

A survey conducted by the Massachusetts State Treasury tells us many of the ways we can end up with unclaimed property. For example, Kalonie A. received her unclaimed property from an old savings account she set up at school when she was in third grade. She used the money to buy dinner for her children. “It made me smile and brought back the memory of collecting change from family members,” she says. 

Another claimant, David G., found that his unclaimed money came from a closed bank account he’d forgotten about. “I bought my wife a pair of diamond earrings that she had been eyeing for a while,” he says.

Where did this money come from originally?

Sources of unclaimed property can include old checking and savings accounts, unpaid wages, securities, uncashed dividends, life insurance policies, uncashed checks, safe deposit boxes, and more. For example, if you suspect you never got your last paycheck from your high school job, check your Massachusetts unclaimed property. Kathleen S. claimed money from the life insurance property of her great aunt who died in 1981, while others claimed money from old savings accounts, an old cash back rewards program, even a final paycheck from a high school job.

To prevent your property from going unclaimed, all you have to do is keep your accounts active. That can include making a deposit or withdrawal, updating your contact info, or getting in touch with your financial institution at least once every three years.

How long will it take to get my money?

Survey responses say that the process of claiming money is satisfying and efficient. “It is extremely easy to find unclaimed money and all you have to do is verify your identity and you’re on your way,” says Marissa P.

Claiming your money is also free when you use the official state website, findmassmoney.gov. The process only takes a few minutes of your time. If you find your name on the list, you’ll be prompted to answer a few questions to verify your identity and finally claim that money. You can expect to get a check in the mail anywhere from a few days to a few weeks later.

Think you might have unclaimed money in the State Treasury? Want to check just in case? Visit findmassmoney.gov.