Introduction: Unclaimed Money: How to Get It (In New York State)
Unclaimed money. Sounds too good to be true, right? You may have seen ads that pop up in your inbox saying that "you may have unclaimed money! Go here to claim it!" However, there may actually be some truth to these...there may be unclaimed money there for you.
Now, chances are that these are scams. However, there are legitimate ways to see if you have unclaimed money that belongs to you and then go get it. I have personally gone through this process for both myself and family members more than once and it is less painful then you might think to get this "missing money".
Note: this is meant for current or former residents of the State of New York. I am currently unaware what the process is for out of state. Images reproduced here from the NYS Comptroller's website are used for informative purposes only).
Disclosure: It should also be noted that some of the links in this Instructable are affiliate links to help you find and purchase information and/or supplies to help you accomplish the process described in this Instructable for which I will receive a commission if you do so. This is in compliance with Instructables' TOS, found here
Step 1: Go to the NYS Comptroller's Website
Step 2: Go to Their Search Page for Unclaimed Money
Here is where you can enter your name or business.
Step 3: Refine Search to See If There Is Any Unclaimed Money for You
This is what you see once you enter a name. You will get a list of results with corresponding mailing addresses and the entities that owe them money. As you can see, you can get a large list of results. By refining the search using middle initials and city of residence you can narrow things down. I have blanked out most of the results to protect privacy, but you can see after the refinements that the number of results dropped dramatically. I also left portions of the results after refinement unblanked to show that the results can show money owed to you from out of state; however the corresponding mailing address was in New York.
At this point you need to start scrolling through the list and see if anything matches you. Bear in mind, this can show up in a number of different ways. The mailing address may be current or past places you have lived or worked. Also, remember that variations on your name should be used in the search. I used John in this example, but depending on how this fictional person may have been known on different documentation, Jonathan, Jonothan, Jon, Johnny, Jonny, Johnnie, etc might also turn up something. For women, obviously try your maiden name. If you are sometimes known by or typically use you middle name, search for that as well.
For businesses, you can find people who owe you money, vendors who haven't paid, etc.
As an example, a few years ago I found an old pension fund for my grandmother under her first name (she uses her middle name) and her maiden name. However the address belonged to her and the funds were successfully claimed.
Step 4: Put in Your Information to Start Claiming Your Money
Once you have clicked on the desired mailing address, it will bring you to this page, which is the first of 4 screens that will help you generate a printable claim form. It asks you for your information in order to help generate a claim form.
Also, note the yellow box on the right. This shows (1) your name, (2) The mailing address related to the claim, (3) who is reporting the missed money to the state, (4) What type of account it is (in this case it was a custodial account for a minor, i.e. UGMA), (5) what sort of fund it is (cash in this case), (6) how many account owners there are (2 in this case, the minor and the custodian), (7) the OUF code, which is a reference number for your claim and (8) the year it was reported.
Note that they do not tell you the amount; you won't find that out until you actually get a check. In some extraordinary circumstances it may be that the amount is less than what it would cost you to claim the money in which case it doesn't pay. I should mention that the state charges nothing for this service; however you may incur costs notarizing the claim form and of course mailing in the form and supporting documents (more on that later). However, that usually doesn't amount to much so chances are unless it is really a tiny amount of money it will probably pay to claim it.
Step 5: Mailing Address Confirmation
This is the second screen, which asks you to confirm your mailing address. Simple enough.
Step 6: Happy Birthday (Or...Enter Your Birthday)
This third screen asks you to enter you birthday. (Note: there is a slight error on this snapshot; the birthday must be entered as dd/mm/yyyy. I have corrected this on some later slides.)
Additional images here demonstrate the options for variations on a name or whether you are not the person in question but otherwise have a legitimate, documentable relationship to them. Note that you will need to provide said documentation in order to claim the funds.
Step 7: Generate Unclaimed Money Claim Form
This is the fourth screen right before your claim form is generated. Note the items which I have indicated in red:
1. You must have the form signed and notarized.
2. Attach required documentation - they don't elaborate here, but what this means is a copy of a current form of acceptable ID (generally a license or passport) along with documentation showing that you resided at the address in question. A copy of a W2 form is good. I have used this option as well as an old pay stub from the company that owed me the lost paycheck. That establishes your relationship to the company as well as the mailing address.
3. Mail it in. You can rush mail it or use conventional mail. I will tell you that even once they receive it, it is not processed right away and the money will likely take months to arrive. Still, it is nice that this service is available and is very low-cost. If you work at a company that has a notary or otherwise know someone who will notarize things for you without charge, your only cost is mailing it there. If you need mailing supplies you can get some here. You can also get some materials sent to your house for special mailing needs by the USPS.
Step 8: Sample Claim Form
Here is a sample claim form. Once you have printed this and filled it out in its entirety, sign it, add your social security number and have it notarized; you are ready to mail it in!
I advise keeping a duplicate copy of the application with the OUF number for your files until you receive and cash the check in case the form gets lost or questions arise.
I am not a qualified tax professional, but make sure you keep the check stub for your tax records. This money may or may not be taxable depending on the source. If I understand the process correctly, you should not have to pay taxes on missed paychecks as you already had withholding and other taxes taken out by your employer when they cut the original check but check with an accountant for your individual circumstance.
Step 9: Final Thoughts
I hope you find this useful. Some things to remember:
1. You need to provide accurate documentation of your relationship to the funds in question in order to claim them.
2. This process is simple but can take months, so don't expect instant gratification.
3. Application must be notarized.
4. Search for yourself and your loved ones at least once a year. If you own a business, more often may be helpful.
5. Make sure you retain the check stub for your taxes and consult an accountant if necessary. I do not think a missed paycheck will incur additional taxes; however a misplaced investment may have increased or lost value over time and may influence capital gains or losses on your return. Get more information about your taxes here.
6. Keep a copy of the application until all is said and done.
To send this stuff in, get mailing supplies here.
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