There's no way I've lost track of any of my money!

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I hear that sentence all the time.

You probably don’t believe you could possibly have ended up walking away from your own money.

But the numbers don’t lie. Just look at the statistics.

In Canada, over $300,000,000 from abandoned bank accounts is being held by the Bank of Canada waiting for the rightful owners to make their claim.

As if that weren’t an impressive enough number, in the United States, the amount unclaimed being held by the Financial Management Service on behalf of 92 US federal agencies as of the end of June 2008 is a staggering $360,124,391.99.

But that’s only the tip of the iceberg. According to the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators, as of 2008, state governments in the United States were holding $32.877 BILLION for 117,000,000 accounts.

The current population of the US is about 305,000,000 people. Of course, some people have more than one account, and some of the accounts are held by businesses. Nonetheless, that still means that a very substantial proportion of US citizens have not received money to which they are entitled.

And the sum is growing every year. In 2006, $4.686 billion was received from business accounts where contact had been lost with the owners.

This has all been reported in the press – even on Oprah, but it’s so hard to believe that you could have left money on the table and walked away that you’ve probably never checked whether some of that huge amount of money is yours.

So how is it possible that so much money has ended up in the government’s unclaimed property funds? Here are just a few ways:

  • A teacher opens a savings account to hold funds for a special classroom trip at the end of the school year. A small amount remains unspent after the event and the teacher is not comfortable pocketing the money. Years go by. The teacher retires. And the funds simply languish unused.
  • For convenience, a volunteer treasurer opens a second checking account in a non-profit’s name close to home, then forgets to close or disclose it at the end of his/her term as treasurer. The money in the account is left unused and abandoned in the bank.
  • An individual buys a savings bond for a grandchild, but dies without informing his children or grandchildren or putting the information in his/her will.
  • A student finishes his university and packs up quickly to take work in another city without leaving a forwarding address with the post office or his former landlord. In his rush to get to his new job, he forgets to get back his utility deposit, or his security deposit on the apartment.
  • A lawyer retires and hands over his files to a colleague. Unfortunately, the trust funds never get shifted over to the name of the colleague and become dormant.
  • A person puts down money with a funeral home to pay for a plot and save his family from this expense upon his death. Unfortunately, the family isn’t informed or forgets about the arrangement and the deposit is never used to provide a burial.

The scenarios are endless and quite commonplace. In these hard economic times, you owe it to yourself to check.

Even if it’s time consuming and tedious, the odds are EXCELLENT that some of those billions of dollars are yours.

Of course it’s not quite as simple as looking your name up on a list.

Unfortunately, there are many lists.

  • Each state keeps track of its own records (that’s 50 right there)
  • Each federal agency that collects and disburses money to citizens has its own records (92 more)
  • Sometimes the money is held in the state where you once lived
  • Sometimes it’s in the home state of the company who collected your money

Americans move about once every five years. That means that an average 40-year-old American has probably lived at 8 addresses. Is it any wonder that it’s so hard for your money to catch up with you?

On top of that, if you have a fairly common name, it’s not so easy to figure out whether a particular account belongs to you or to someone else with the same name.

So here’s the deal. My goal is to raise money for charity. I think that I can raise the most amount of money for charity by finding money for you and getting you to agree to donate 10% of what you get back to a charity of your choosing. That means you get to keep 90% of the money you didn’t even know you had, and you get a tax receipt for the remaining 10% when you donate it to charity. And you get to feel good about it too!

I’ve spent the last three years learning about the most efficient ways to search all the lists. I’ll search for your money for you at no charge. Of course, you’ll have to provide me with enough identifying information for me to do a decent search: your exact name and your former addresses. After that, I’ll run that information through the lists and see if I can find your money.

Your part of the bargain is that if I find money for you, you agree that

  • you will follow through and claim the money that I find
  • you will send 10% of your found money as a donation to your favorite charity
  • you will let me know which charity got the money and how much you sent

If you have a favorite charity, please send me its name and address and I will look for funds in the charity’s name too.

So fill out the form on the search page and let’s get started in this Win-Win-Win arrangement.


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