Bank accounts are lost and unclaimed for a variety of reasons, and this means that there are millions of unspoken-for dollars out there. Sometimes, family members will open a savings account for a child and place money into the account, and for whatever reason they forget that the account exists and neglect to tell the child when he or she gets older. Another possibility is that the account belonged to a relative that is now deceased. The money in those accounts rightfully belongs to the next of kin. You will be able to find a lost bank account easily.
Determine if you have any possible lost bank accounts by going through your records. You might have had a bank account when you were first starting out in the workforce, and you may have forgotten to close it. If you don't have any records, but you remember having an account at a certain bank, then you can call the bank and ask them to do a search of their records for you. If the bank is no longer there, you can search for contact information for the lost bank. One site to check out is Lost Bank Account, which lists FDIC Failed Banks and contact information for each one. (See Resources for link.)
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Ask family members if they had set up an account for you when you were a child. Bank accounts for children are popular gifts for new parents. There is a possibility that whoever set up the account forgot that they had done so. Find out the name under which they set up the account, Social Security number of any joint owners, type of account, last known balance, and the account number.
Find a lost bank account on your own by visiting sites such as Unclaimed Property Guide or Missing Money. (See Resources for link.) Enter your name and the state in which you want to check, and you will be able to see if there is any money or accounts that might be in your name. Remember to check all states in which you have lived and held accounts, as well as states in which you have done business. You will be able to input your information free of charge and then find out if there is any money owed to you.
Hire a professional unclaimed assets locator. You can find that he or she can even help find money that was in bank accounts years ago, even if the bank no longer exists. The Financial Institutions Reform, Recovery, and Enforcement Act of 1989 can protect money from accounts at closed banks, and many people will still be able to get their money. Sites such as Cash Unclaimed offer an easy way for you to find out if you have any unclaimed assets in bank accounts. (See Resources for link.)
If you go this route, inquire about the amount of fees you will need to pay to the locator. These locators often charge a percentage of the money that you find, and it is often between 20 percent and 35 percent. Check to see if they will accept a flat fee instead. In many cases, you will be able to negotiate with the locator for a lower fee before they find a lost bank account for you.