Unclaimed Lost Money: How it Got Lost and Where to Find It

Ever get the feeling you lost money somewhere along this Grand Guignol presentation we call life in the 21st Century? Ever think maybe you might find that lost money or money lost by someone else? The chances are at least fractionally better than you might think.

Finding lost money requires some legwork and effort, but like they say, nothing in life comes for free. Except for life insurance money. If you come from a large family with lots of cousins and uncles and aunts and second cousins and great-aunts and such, the lost money may actually be owed to you without your having done anything more than listen politely to your long-lost relative’s story of the war. Chances are pretty slim that the money from that insurance policy was actually lost and is just sitting around waiting for you, but a lawyer can help you find out for good.

Another means of finding lost money may be as simple as looking under the sofa cushions or beneath the seat of your car or inside a junk drawer. According to the good folks who run the Powerball lottery, a little less than 15% of their cash prizes go unclaimed. Now, let’s be honest: your money isn’t going to come as a result of finding out that you only thought you lost the lottery. The way you can take advantage of the millions upon millions of dollars of money lost on lottery play is to locate a ticket and check it against the winning numbers or a scratch-off ticket that paid off a couple of bucks. You may not win millions or thousands or even hundreds, but a ten-spot can still buy some things in this country.

Pensions are a haven for finding lost money. You may be entitled to pension money even if the company went out of business or they cut the pension plan loose to help pay for executive retreats to Nudie Island Land. Set your browser to pbgc.gov and follow directions on finding out information about the status of your company’s pension plan. In the event that the company failed to meet all its obligations to those taking part in the pension plan (and what company hasn’t?) you may find your lost money in the form of an admittedly small monthly pension coming to your courtesy of the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation.

Admit it: you hate the IRS even though your taxes paid for whatever benefit you think taxes should be paid for. Me, I happen to like to driving over roads that don’t have ten foot potholes, so I don’t mind the taxes too much. Still, I’m not that fond of the IRS. But you’ve got to hand it to this most despised of government agencies: they don’t try to hide the fact that they’ve got oodles and oodles of lost money on their hands. According to the fine folks working for the IRS, over two billion dollars are just waiting around to be handed out in the form of tax refunds because those who are rightly owed their money failed to file a return or failed to take advantage of significant tax breaks or deductions. The IRS even offers a hotline and a web site to help you find out if you have any shot at recovering your lost money.


One of the greatest repositories of lost money in the United States lies in America’s Biggest Bad: the banking industry. Valuables and property and money gets left behind in safe deposit boxes that the spouse maybe didn’t know about, but that is now entitled with the death of Mr. Secretive. Millions of dollars in lost money exist in banking accounts that were never closed down due to someone dying or just moving away and forgetting that they had it or thinking there were only a few bucks in the account and that hardly merited waiting around for a bank employee to get off the phone of the person too damn lazy to come down to the bank like you did.