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Year after year, the United States government accumulates millions of dollars worth unclaimed property (also known as unclaimed money) that’s been abandoned. This abandoned property is deemed unclaimed if there has been no account activity or contact with the owner for typically one year or longer, depending on each state’s law.
Unclaimed property comes in many intangible forms. According to Unclaimed.org, some of the most common include savings or checking accounts, uncashed dividends, stocks, refunds, unredeemed money orders, annuities, utility security deposits, and payroll checks. To prevent unclaimed money being dispersed into businesses, financial institutions, or other entities, each state has laws in place to protect consumers. These laws ensure that property that belongs to owners will be returned in due time. Although, in some cases, unclaimed property is used for other purposes such as a state school fund or college scholarships. While not its intended purpose, this is seen as public good and can still be recovered by the rightful owner after the fact.
With our country currently holding billions of dollars in unclaimed property, we wanted to dig deeper and look at how this cash varies across the country. After compiling the data from reports for each state, we were able to visualize the total amount of unclaimed property in each one. Based off of these findings, we were then able to uncover other compelling insights such as the average amount of unclaimed property per person by state, the top states with unclaimed money, and the largest individual claims. Here’s what we found:
While the total amount of unclaimed money by state drastically varies across the country, the numbers tend to correspond with each state’s population. More populous states such as California or Texas typically have more unclaimed money than states such as New Hampshire and North Dakota.
By looking at the total amount of unclaimed money by state and its most current population, we then were able to find the average amount of unclaimed money per person per state. Topping the charts in terms of average per resident are New York ($704.85), Delaware ($529.36), and Arkansas ($379.37).
Next, we thought it would be interesting to target the five states that currently hold the most unclaimed money amongst the rest. The top ranking states from greatest to least are New York ($14 B), California ($8 B), Texas ($4 B), Pennsylvania ($3.2 B), and Illinois ($2.9 B).
Lastly, we noticed unusual patterns in the dollar amount of individual claims across the U.S. While many teetered in the hundreds and below, a few hit the billion dollar mark. These high dollar claims were paid out to owners in Iowa, New York, and the highest being $2.3 billion in Illinois.
If you’re unsure, it’s worth taking a look, even if you are doubtful of its existence. There is a multitude of online resources that are free, fast, and easy to use to find out. By not checking, you could potentially be throwing away the opportunity to collect free money, which could get you one step closer to your financial goals.
Go ahead and reclaim what is rightfully yours!