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Unclaimed Money: Could Some Be Yours?

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By Cynthia Hsu, Esq. on June 16, 2011 6:39 AM

Good Morning America's unclaimed money story has informed Americans and given many hope about finding missing money. It's kind of like a modern-day treasure hunt, except you're hunting for your own lost treasure - and there's actually a realistic likelihood that you'll find a few bucks.

There's at least $32.877 billion dollars of unclaimed property and missing money being safeguarded by state treasurers and other agencies, according to the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators.

All states tend to have some program that is aimed at returning this unclaimed property to their rightful owners - and some of that money can belong to you.

Unclaimed property generally refers to accounts and other property that is held at a financial institution or company that has not had contact with its rightful owner in more than a year. Unclaimed property can take the form of a lost savings account, a lost CD account, or unredeemed money orders, insurance payments or life insurance policies. In short, unclaimed property can be quite all-encompassing.

When nobody comes to claim these accounts, many laws require that the institution, such as the bank, must send the money over to the state. The state will then safeguard the account and try to return it to whoever actually owns the property, according to the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators.

And, unclaimed accounts can be quite large - one West Virginia woman received nearly $15,000 from an unclaimed CD account that was originally opened by her now-deceased mother. Vickie Shaluta thought her mother had passed on without any assets. Little did she know, her mother's CD account had actually been accumulating money for years before it was turned over to the West Virginia Treasurer's Office.

So, while your missing money may not be as grand as the $15,000 check featured on the Good Morning America unclaimed money story, it could be something worth looking into. Free databases like can get you started on your research into whether or not some of those billions of unclaimed dollars are actually yours.

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