The National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators said unclaimed tax refunds, pension plan payments, death benefits and other forms of forgotten funds had reached $158 for every U.S. resident, CNNMoney reported Saturday.
This is not the stuff of wallets dropped on the sidewalk. In an extreme case last year, a Connecticut resident who wished to remain anonymous claimed $32.8 million from a stock sale in which the proceeds had been left unattended.
After several years, states will use the unclaimed funds, but "The money belongs to the owner in perpetuity. Even if the owner dies, then their heirs could come back and claim it," said Carolyn Atkinson, West Virginia's deputy treasurer for unclaimed property, who was also once president of the NAUPA.
NAUPA suggested anyone with the nagging feeling they've misplaced anywhere from a few dollars to a few hundred thousand might start by looking at their Web site at unclaimed.org, which has links to state programs.
The IRS has a link on their Web site called "where's my refund?" Private insurance companies have their own search mechanisms. The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp., a federal agency, has a search directory.
There are also 45 million unredeemed savings bonds valued at $16 billion that can be researched at the Treasury Department's treasuryhunt.gov link, CNNMoney reported.