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More Ways to Find Your Missing Money

September 24, 2000|KATHY M. KRISTOF

Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about the Missing Money Web site:


Q: What type of property is in this database?

A: It runs the gamut from forgotten phone and rental deposits to contents of safe deposit boxes, bank accounts and securities. The only types of property that are generally not included are funds owed to you by federal authorities, which typically operate their own lost-and-found services.

Q: How does property get lost?

A: Property often gets lost because of illness or upheaval. For instance, my grandmother had a stroke several years before she died, making it impossible for her to communicate. A product of the Great Depression, she had opened small bank accounts all over Southern California. They ended up "dormant"--which generally happens when no business is transacted for three years or more--and getting escheated, or turned over, to the state.

Other people say they lost track of bank accounts when they divorced, moved, lost a spouse or experienced another traumatic event. Some say they didn't lose the bank account, but the bank apparently lost track of them when there was a corporate merger or, in some cases, a series of mergers.

Q: Which states participate in the Missing Money database?

A: Arizona, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina, South Dakota, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia and Wisconsin, as well as the District of Columbia.

Q: Are there other unclaimed property databases on the Web?

A: Lots of them. Many states operate their own Web sites. For California, go to; click on Unclaimed Property. For other states, go to the National Assn. of Unclaimed Property Administrators site at Other general property search sites are at and

There also are heir-finder sites that will charge you a fee to claim, or even search for, your assets at ($20); ($39) and ($14).

Q: Is there any good reason to pay a fee to search for my lost property?

A: No.

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