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Before we talk about how to find unclaimed funds for others:
There are many people throughout the U.S. that, believe it or not, have unclaimed money out there and sometimes they don't even know about it.
State governments will try maybe once or twice to contact the person and
if they get no response, the funds will sit there in perpetuity.
I would always be a little incredulous when I would hear about these stories because I tend to watch my finances like a hawk.
However, I had the California Dept of the Treasury contact me via mail a few years back to let me know that I had over $600 in unclaimed funds . I was more than a little skeptical so I contacted the office directly and guess what, it was an old paycheck that I had never claimed.
Before you roll your eyes at me and ask how I can forget an old paycheck, let me explain that I didn't actually forget about it. I had walked away from a very bad employee situation for an entertainment lawyer in Los Angeles that I worked for. The situation was intolerable and I finally walked into his office and informed him that I was quitting. I never went back to get my paycheck because I would have rather starved than ever see that office building again and I certainly did not want to to go back just to get the money. Well.... and then after a while I guess I did forget about that money, out of sight out of mind!!
So anyway, fast forward years later and the state of California was informing me that I had these unclaimed funds and ... so I claimed them! End of story!
Except it wasn't, because when I went onto California's unclaimed funds site :
and put in names of family members, I actually found that they had unclaimed funds too.
I told them about it and they claimed their funds and everyone was happy.
Such as www.missingmoney.com.
Missing money.com allows you to find unclaimed funds by state.
If you're searching for an IRS refund, try:
For unclaimed U.S. Savings bonds, try:
located at the U.S. Govt's Treasury Direct website.
To find an unclaimed 401(k) pension plan, try:
To find unclaimed funds at a bank that folded:
These sites are really the only sites you should visit (other than the direct state websites such as California's State controller's website. as an example)
These sites will allow you to conduct a search to find unclaimed funds that may belong to you.
Once you have determined that the funds belong to you, the state or government entity that has those funds will detail how you can go about claiming those funds.
starting any kind of a business will take a lot of thought, planning,
time and investment on your part, starting an unclaimed money finder
business is no exception.
Many states such as Ohio and New York have strict requirements they make of their investigators (the official name for those who find unclaimed funds for others), some will even require that you have a PI license.
Still other states such as California and Alaska do not require much of their investigators but to register with the state .
Most every state has a limit on how much you can charge people to connect them with their missing funds. The standard rate you should charge is usually no more than 10%.
Again, if you want to get an idea of what would be involved in starting an unclaimed funds business, check out California State Controller's website. They have a wonderful Guide investigator handbook, which will give you a good idea of what it would take to start this sort of a business:
Go to the state website and find a person who has missing funds ( if
the person resides in California, it is best to find someone who is owed
less than $1,000 because if the amount owed is less than $1,000, you
don't have to go to the trouble of getting a Power of Attorney).
2. Locate the person via the white pages (internet) and call or send them a letter via mail. Remember that this might be the difficult part because if the government entity was not able to find this person, then they may have moved, so this is where you might have to work a little of your investigative magic.
3. Contact the person and let them know that, using various government databases (don't tell them which ones or they will just hang up on you and look for this money on their own) that you were able to see that they have $xxx amount in unclaimed funds from the government. Let them know that once the $$ are in their hands, you do charge a 10% finder fee.
4. Draw up a contract with that verbiage and have them sign and send it back to you and then commence on matching them up with their funds. (See the handbook for more information on how to do this)
5. If you are an investigator for the state of California, then you will be sent a check for 10% of the unclaimed funds ( this is your finder's fee) and this will be separate from the check that your client will receive. All states have different rules in regards to this. I recommend being an investigator for the state of California because they send you a separate check for your fee so that you do not have to be badgering your client for the 10% fee , but I do recommend doing your own research to see which state you would like to be a "finder" for!
1. Read the investigator handbook first!
Don't go out there and just start trying to connect people with their
missing funds, they will think you are running a scam. Read the
handbook first to learn how to find unclaimed funds, to make sure you are doing everything legally and for
tips on how to go about putting together your business.
2. Try using the internet (white Pages) to find the people you are looking for. but if you are not having any luck, you may need to look into a paid service to help you find the people you are looking for.
3. Try looking into a toll-free phone number that you can set up if customers need to call you back.
4. Set up a basic website
Having one set up for you can be done very cheaply, sometimes it can be free. Having a website with your contact information will help you to maintain a professional image for your customers (much more likely to trust you).
This is a very basic explanation on how to find unclaimed funds for others (for a fee), this sort of business can be lucrative depending on how much time and energy you put into it.
Please be careful of scams and use only the government resources listed above to help you build your business.
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