Finding a lost bank account or unclaimed money is easier than you might think. While I’ve never lost a bank account personally, I did open an Ally bank account and then leave it untouched for a decade. When I finally logged in, I saw that it had earned $10.
We’ve rounded up 10 of our favorite methods for finding a bank account. It may take a little digging, but running through the exercises below can be worth your while, even if you don’t think you’re missing any accounts.
10 Ways to Find Lost Bank Accounts & Other Hidden Money
In the US, there isn’t one central database listing all bank accounts. While you can use an international bank account number (IBAN) to get some information, you won’t be able to see the account holder’s name with it.
Fortunately, you have a lot of other resources at your disposal. Here are 10 ways you can find lost bank accounts and hidden money:
- Method 1: Credit Report
- Method 2: Old Checks
- Method 3: Bank Statements
- Method 4: Treasury Department – Unclaimed Property Division
- Method 5: National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators
- Method 6: National Credit Union Administration
- Method 7: Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation
- Method 8: MissingMoney
- Method 9: Where’s My Refund?
- Method 10: Consult a Financial Advisor
1. Check Your Credit Report
Your credit report is a good place to start, as this lists not only your credit score but also any active bank accounts associated with your name.
Your credit report will also show you any accounts that someone else might have opened in your name. If this happens, you’ll need to take a few steps to set up fraud alerts with the three credit bureaus mentioned above:
- Inform the bank.
- Change all passwords and PINs.
- Make a police report.
- Fill out an identity theft affidavit through the FTC.
2. Old Checks
If the account had a checkbook, looking for the stubs or unfilled checks will provide you with the bank name and the missing bank account number.
You’ll need to get in touch with the bank and follow their procedure to retrieve the account. Make sure you check old files and boxes that have been put away as these might contain papers and other documentation with clues.
3. Old Account Bank Statements
Like old checks, old bank statements can lead you to bank accounts that are no longer in use.
Credit cards, savings accounts, and checking accounts all come with statements. If the account is old, paper statements would most likely have been mailed in.
If you’re unsure of what happened to the account, you can get in touch with the bank or financial institution and inquire about it.
4. State’s Treasury Department: Unclaimed property division
The Unclaimed Property Division of the Treasury Department offers many ways to locate lost assets, including unclaimed funds held by the federal government. You can visit the website above, which links to several government agencies that can help you find unclaimed money.
It also links to the Foreign Claims Settlement Commission, which helps Americans with a covered loss in a country outside of the US.
There are five different agencies, each of which can help you locate different kinds of money. These agencies include:
- Treasury Hunt for any unclaimed securities and payments
- HUD (Housing and Urban Development) for mortgage insurance refunds
- NCUA for unclaimed deposits (more on this below)
- NAUPA for unclaimed property at the state level (more on this below)
- US Courts for Unclaimed Bankruptcy Funds
The website also links to the Foreign Claims Settlement Commission, which helps Americans with a covered loss in a country outside of the US.
5. NAUPA: National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators
The National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators is a network that includes the National Association of State Treasurers. It’s considered to be the foremost authority when it comes to reuniting owners with their unclaimed properties.
The NAUPA operates in all 50 states and several Canadian provinces, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, and Kenya.
Its website unclaimed.org provides a lot of useful information, including how to go about finding a lost bank account by visiting an outreach event held by your state or using the website’s search resources.
The website has a clickable US map, where you can click on your state to be taken to the relevant unclaimed property website. Every state has a database of unclaimed property, and they attempt to reunite the unclaimed property with its rightful owner as mandated by law.
6. National Credit Union Administration
If you’ve ever held an account with a credit union, checking the NCUA’s (National Credit Union Administration) unclaimed deposits listing might be worth your while.
The Unclaimed Deposits Listing provides a list that includes the first initial and full last name of the person and the city, state, and credit union name.
If you find information that you believe is yours, you can download the Member Verification Form, fill it in, and then send it to the NCUA by mail or email.
7. Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation
Like bank accounts, pension funds get lost from time to time. If you’ve previously worked for an employer that offered a pension fund you can no longer locate, the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation might be able to help.
It runs a database that lists unclaimed pensions you can easily search. You can also try the National Registry of Unclaimed Retirement Benefits. This is run by PenChecks Trust, which is one of the biggest retirement plan distribution companies.
The website MissingMoney.com allows you to search for missing property in several states from one convenient location. The website isn’t limited to bank accounts and can also help you locate a missing insurance policy, safe deposit boxes, escrow accounts, and other missing funds.
If your search returns a positive result, you can fill in the required details and wait for instructions. If your search comes up empty-handed, you can check back later since records get updated from time to time.
9. Where’s My Refund?
While it won’t be easy to find your lost bank accounts, the IRS’s Where’s My Refund can help you find lost tax refunds. To initiate a claim, you’ll need your SSN (Social Security Number), your filing status, and the exact amount that you’re owed, The IRS also offers a mobile app called IRS2Go to help you locate such refunds more easily and effectively.
10. Consult a Financial Advisor
You may come across websites or ads from private investigators promising to locate lost bank accounts for an upfront fee. In most cases, this is a scam and should be avoided at all costs.
If you’d rather have someone do the digging for you, do your research first. In most cases, you’ll have to pay 10-20% of all recovered funds, but this is subject to the terms and conditions.
Instead, consider asking a financial advisor about locating your lost funds. They might be able to help you or at least give you advice.
Before hiring anyone, be sure to do your research by checking a business or advisor’s legitimacy. Use sites like the BBB (Better Business Bureau, industry organizations, and government websites to ensure that the business is legit.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do I find all my bank accounts?
If you’re unsure where to find all of your bank accounts, your credit report is the best place to start. This lists all of the active accounts in your name. You can get a yearly report for free from all three major credit reporting agencies. You can also look online for unclaimed money, using the many methods highlighted throughout the article.
How do I locate hidden bank accounts?
There are several ways you can find hidden bank accounts, even if you’re not the account holder. You can make a formal request for financial information by checking for transfers to unknown accounts using a bank statement or asking the courts of law for an asset search or credit report.
How do I find a deceased family member’s bank account?
You might also need to find a bank account that used to belong to a deceased relative. The process of claiming someone else’s account will likely require you to get a hold of their death certificate, and in some cases, of the full probate court order.
The process of claiming lost account money will differ from one state to the next. You’ll definitely need proof of identity and, depending on how old the account is, you might also need to prove that you resided in the address associated with that account.
Final Tips for Finding Lost Bank Accounts
You have a lot of resources at your disposal to help you track down lost bank accounts. If you’re looking for a savings account or deposit account, the more account information you manage to gather, the easier it will be.
For an account that used to belong to a deceased family member, things might get slightly more complicated. The same is true if this search is part of an ongoing divorce. In these cases, a lawyer might be able to provide direction.
Lastly, be careful of any scammers. The promise of easy money may be hard to resist, but you should never pay anything upfront and always do your homework before giving someone your information.