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California Unclaimed Money
What Is Unclaimed Money in California?
Unclaimed money generally refers to cash and cashless financial assets that remain untouched for a statutory amount of time or dormancy period. These include bank account balances, uncashed checks, travelers’ checks, stocks and bonds, refunds, life insurance, and other public benefits. The dormancy periods of these financial instruments vary. The government or an approved business taking temporary possession of assets is a process called escheatment. Following escheatment, the unclaimed funds remain in a trust until the owner or a legal representative submits a claim.
In California, the Unclaimed Property Law requires businesses, financial institutions, insurance companies, and other entities that manage financial assets to report unclaimed funds to the California State Controller’s Office. In turn, the state agency prepares a government list of unclaimed money and makes it available for public perusal online and at public events happening across the state.
How To Find Unclaimed Money in California
The California State Controller’s Office maintains a publicly searchable database containing information about unclaimed funds and unclaimed property in California. Interested members of the public can search this government list of unclaimed money with their full names or business names to discover unclaimed funds. Besides finding unclaimed money, the website also sports a feature that owners can use to claim unclaimed money online. Alternatively, persons who have unclaimed money can contact the State Controller’s Office directly in person or by phone during business hours at:
Unclaimed Property Division
10600 White Rock Road, Suite 141
Rancho Cordova, CA 95670
Phone: (800) 992-4647 (Nationwide)
Phone: (916) 323-2827 (Outside the US)
Unclaimed money in the United States is public and can be accessed by anyone through official or non-governmental services. Third-party unclaimed money search engines are easy to use and deliver fast results not limited by geographic region. Users can typically search for unclaimed money through third-party search sites using just a full name or business name. However, because these sites are not government-sponsored, the availability and accuracy of results can vary.
How Do I Find California Unclaimed Money for Free?
The online database provided by the California State Controller’s Office is free to use. Besides this database, several federal agencies empowered to maintain temporary custody of unclaimed money in escheatment also maintain other free-to-use databases for finding unclaimed money. The list below describes the type of unclaimed money as well as the federal agency that processes returns to the rightful owners.
Unpaid Back Wages and Salaries
Unclaimed back wages and salaries owed by private employers and collected by the Wages and Hours Division of the Department of Labor are available on the division’s unclaimed money database. Interested persons may also call the division on (866) 487-9243 or schedule a visit to the local office in California.
Unpaid Pensions for Private Workers
The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) has a self-help guide and maintains an unclaimed pensions database that persons who worked in private companies across the US can use to find their unclaimed pensions in 401k accounts or other private pension plans. Alternatively, parties can contact the PBGC at:
Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation
1200 K Street, NW
Washington, DC 20005-4026
Phone: (800) 326-5678
Unclaimed Veterans’ Life Insurance Funds
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) started the veterans’ life insurance fund as a financial security blanket for current and former service members and their dependents. If a veteran suffers a disability, injury, dies, or cannot work after serving, they will get regular checks from this fund. In many cases, these checks go uncashed, and the VA reports them as unclaimed money. Concerned individuals can look up these assets on the VA unclaimed funds database or contact the agency directly:
Department of Veterans Affairs
810 Vermont Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20420
Local office directory
Phone: (800) 827-1000
Unclaimed Federal Tax Refunds
Overpaying federal taxes is a common occurrence for many residents of California. The IRS subtracts the tax amount due from the amount paid and refunds the rest to the taxpayer. When these refunds go uncashed, the agency reports them as unclaimed money and puts it on its unclaimed refunds database. This database also lets the taxpayer submit a claim for free. Alternatively, the taxpayer may visit the nearest IRS office in California. or call the IRS helpline on (800) 829-1040.
Unclaimed Credit Union Deposits
Unclaimed deposits by members of credit unions will be reported as unclaimed money to the National Credit Union Administration. The agency also maintains a database that the beneficiaries can confirm and process payment for unclaimed credit union deposits. Alternatively, contact the agency directly for help.
National Credit Union Administration
4807 Spicewood Springs Road, Suite 5100
Austin, TX 78759
Phone: (512) 231-7900
Fax: (512) 231-7920
Unclaimed Harmed Investors’ Funds
Money seized by the US Securities and Exchange Commission due to fraud eventually pays harmed investors. Concerned investors who have been victims of securities fraud may search the US Securities and Exchange Commission database for unclaimed funds. Alternatively, visit the regional office or call the SEC helpline.
US Securities and Exchange Commission
100 F Street, NE
Washington, DC 20549
Regional offices directory
Phone: (202) 551-6551
Unclaimed Matured Savings Bonds
The long-term nature of savings bonds (up to thirty years) makes them a common source of unclaimed money, especially for individual investors. The investment firm or the US Treasury Department will report the funds as unclaimed in these cases. The department will also put information about the unclaimed bonds on its database for concerned persons to access and file a due claim. Alternatively, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Unclaimed Bankruptcy Funds
Creditors from bankruptcy cases in California can use the bankruptcy court unclaimed funds locator to find unclaimed money. In bankruptcy, the court-assigned trustee receives the funds from asset liquidations (chapter 7 bankruptcy) or scheduled debt repayment (chapter 13 bankruptcy). Then, the official notifies the creditors involved and pays the creditors who submit proof of claim. However, when these payments go unclaimed for several years, the trustee shall report it as unclaimed money. The court also publishes information about the unclaimed money on the unclaimed funds locator. The creditor and their authorized representatives may also contact the court at:
US Bankruptcy Courts
Administrative Office of the United States Courts
One Columbus Circle, NE
Washington, DC 20544
Unclaimed Mortgage Refunds
California homeowners who have a Federal Housing Administration (FHA) insured mortgage can use the Department of Housing and Urban Development unclaimed funds database to lookup and claim funds from canceled premiums and distributive share payments. Eligible homeowners and their legal representatives may also contact the agency directly to claim the funds.
451 7th Street SW
Washington, DC 20410
Phone: (800) 697-6967
Unclaimed Funds in a Foreign Country
US nationals and relatives of nationals who suffered bodily injury, loss, or property damage due to US military operations in a foreign country are often eligible to receive compensation. Affected persons and surviving relatives may check the Foreign Claims Settlement Commission database or contact the agency directly to file a claim.
Foreign Claims Settlement Commission
441 G Street, NW, Room 6330
Washington, DC 20579
How To Claim Unclaimed Money in California
Individuals who discover their unclaimed money on the State Controller’s Office database have two options. Persons who are not the original owner of the unclaimed property, such as immediate family members and legal representatives, must submit a paper claim. Original owners of the unclaimed funds can use the eClaim option. The state agency provides eClaim instructions on their website.
Generally, an eClaim begins with a name-based search on the website. When the system returns search results showing unclaimed money, the type of money, and the amount of money up for claim. A button next to the result will prompt the claimant to select the claim. Once the claimant has added all the available claims, they must then proceed by clicking the claim properties button on the upper right corner of the screen. This will direct the individual to a final page where the system will prompt them to provide personal and contact information. Finally, the system prompts the individual to create a claim, review the information provided, and submit the claim.
Upon submission, claimants get an eClaim identification number, which they can cite in future correspondence with the State Controller’s Office and track the claim status. Furthermore, the system will send an email confirmation informing the individual about the claims made.
Paper claims apply to individuals who are not the direct owners of unclaimed money in California. The process also begins online after the individual “checks out” the items in the online shopping cart. Instead of proceeding with an eClaim, the system will provide the third-party claimant with instructions on submitting a paper claim. This process involves downloading and completing forms and affidavits, which the claimant must fill, and attaching the required documentation.
Generally, required documents include driver’s licenses, credit memos, insurance statements, account statements, and vital records. Page 3 through 7 of the paper guidelines provide a list of acceptable documents depending on the type of unclaimed money. Then, the individual must enclose the application packet in a self-addressed stamped envelope and mail it to the State Controller’s Office.
State Controller's Office
Unclaimed Property Division
P.O. Box 942850
Sacramento, CA 94250-5873
Phone: (916) 464-6284
How Long Does It Take To Get Unclaimed Money in California?
On average, individuals who use the eClaim option can expect to receive a response from the State Controller’s Office within two weeks. On the other hand, paper claims take between 30 to 60 days to process, accounting for the time required to send and receive snail mails. Concerned persons who wish to monitor the status and progress of their claims may use the online tracking option for eClaim or call the State Controller’s Office on (916) 464-6284 during business hours.
Who Can Claim Unclaimed Money From Deceased Relatives in California?
Heirs and surviving family members, executors, and court-appointed probate administrators can claim unclaimed funds from deceased persons in California. Generally, these individuals must provide vital records and supporting documentation proving their relationship to the deceased relative before the Division of Unclaimed Property processes the request and releases the unclaimed funds.
What Happens to California Unclaimed Money in California if No One Claims It?
The state holds unclaimed funds indefinitely and continually makes efforts to locate the original owners and their heirs or surviving family members. There is no deadline for claiming unclaimed funds in California. When a person submits a valid claim, they will receive the total value of the original funds and any accrued interests.
Can Someone in California Claim Unclaimed Money From Another State?
Yes. Persons currently living in California but holding financial accounts in other states are also likely to have unclaimed money in those states. These individuals may file a claim for unclaimed funds in that state following the procedure outlined by the government agency acting as a temporary holder for the unclaimed money. Online and paper claims depend on the holder’s policy. Still, the fact remains that every claimant must provide supporting documentation to prove their relationship or ownership of the unclaimed funds.