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What is unclaimed property?

In this context, unclaimed property is any financial asset that has been abandoned or forgotten for a specific amount of time — often three to five years, but sometimes longer — after which, by law, it must be turned over to the state for safekeeping.

Some common forms of unclaimed property include: checking or savings accounts; uncashed dividends or payroll checks; investment instruments like stocks, bonds, or brokerage accounts; life insurance proceeds; refunds; trust distributions; certificates of deposit; and annuities.

You may ask: How could someone forget to collect their final paycheck? How could someone abandon an old savings account?

Believe it or not, unclaimed property is actually quite common — with approximately one in seven Americans having some form of property owed to them that’s been forgotten, according to the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators.

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How to retrieve unclaimed property

If you believe you have unclaimed property or want to check if your state owes you money, you can follow Pearlman’s step-by-step guide on TikTok.

Pearlman says a quick online search for “unclaimed property” and “the name of your state” should come up with the Treasury website for your state.

“You want one that ends in .gov — anything else could be a scam,” he warned.

In Pennsylvania, where Pearlman is based, you can secure your forgotten assets by visiting unclaimedproperty.patreasury.gov. But not all states follow such a straightforward website formula. In Florida, for instance, you should visit fltreasurehunt.gov to make your claim.

Once you’re on the official state website, you can search for your lost funds by inserting personal information like your full name, past addresses and so on — and remember, it’s worth checking every state you’ve lived or worked in.

“I did it for my wife [and she] had a paycheck from Ruby Tuesdays from 2002,” Pearlman said. “That branch of Ruby Tuesdays has not existed in 20 years. That money was still waiting for her. So, she’s finally getting paid for a job she did two decades ago.”

Unclaimed property may seem like a non-issue for you if you’ve taken steps to keep your accounts active over time — but in reality, many people have unclaimed property without realizing it.

There might even be money waiting waiting to be claimed from the strangest of sources. For example, Pearlman said: “If you had a Google AdSense account and that never paid you out because you never made $100 — their minimum to even cut you a check, like I did — that money ends up going to the unclaimed property of your state Treasury.

“So go check this out. You’re missing out on money.”

Does this money hack work?

If you find unclaimed property on your state’s database, the state will send you an online claim form or instructions for reclaiming the property.

This seems to have worked for some of Pearlman’s viewers. So far, his video has attracted more than 9,200 comments, with many claiming the TikToker’s money hack worked.

One commenter with the username Cades_Arcade wrote: “Bro I found out I have over 1000 in unclaimed property. How bout that. Thanks for the tip.”

Another with the username Kelby wrote: “My partner just got the first of 3 claim checks, it was for over a grand! That kind of money is a huge deal for us right now. Thank you for this post!”

Meanwhile, someone with the username rhapsody commented: “I just found $305! And some payroll for my granny from 1986.”

The National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators says there’s currently billions of dollars being held right now in unclaimed property programs. And all it takes is a quick online search to get back what’s rightfully yours.

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About the Author

Bethan Moorcraft

Bethan Moorcraft


Bethan Moorcraft is a reporter for Moneywise with experience in news editing and business reporting across international markets.

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