Locate and Claim Money That Belongs to You With I-Cash
This post is sponsored by the Illinois Treasurer’s I-Cash Program, however all opinions are my own. (FYI: if you don’t live in Illinois, check out this nationwide site for your state’s equivalent unclaimed funds department.)
When it comes to getting your finances in order, there’s nothing like finding extra money to help pad your emergency fund, pay down debt, cover general expenses or add a little “fun money” to your budget. Ways of uncovering extra money include cutting down on personal and household expenses. There’s also the idea of increasing your income. But what about recovering money that already belongs to you? Would you believe me if I said you might have some money out there in your name that is waiting to be claimed?
Have you ever checked the “unclaimed funds” department for your state treasurer’s office? It’s actually a great way to find money in your name that belongs to you. In my case, I live in the state of Illinois, so I’ve been able to find money for myself and relatives through the Illinois Treasurer’s I-Cash Program. It’s very easy to find out if there are funds in your name, claim them and get them sent to you.
Before I go into how to do that, I’ll tell you why you might have money in your name so that you understand that this is a totally legitimate resource. Let’s say you work at a job and leave before you get a final paycheck. You also move shortly thereafter leaving no forwarding address with your former employer. If that paycheck is returned as undeliverable to the remitter (your former employer), the state treasurer’s office receives those funds and holds them until you make the initiative to claim them. But that’s not the only scenario. Some common examples of unclaimed property held by the state include: inactive bank accounts, unclaimed life insurance benefits, utility refunds, stocks, matured CD’s and other investments. It all boils down to something being owed to you, but the remitter is unable to locate you.
The great news is that the Illinois Treasurer’s I-Cash Program has taken great measures to make it very easy and free for you to check their system online and submit a claim for property that might belong to you.
A few fun facts about the program:
- The Illinois Treasurer is currently safeguarding $2.5 billion in recovered cash belonging to millions of Illinois residents, and he wants to return it.
- One-in-four Illinois adults discovers property to claim when they search at IllinoisTreasurer.gov/ICASH.
- The average paid claim is $2,900, and most individuals receive a check within about four weeks of submitting their signed claim form and authentication of ownership.
- Most unclaimed property belongs to individuals, but the Illinois Treasurer’s Office also returns millions of dollars each year to nonprofits, small businesses, corporations and government entities.
I know that this program works and is worth the few minutes you’ll take looking into the database for your own potential payout. A few years ago, my husband and I set out to pay off all of our bills to become totally free of debt. (We had over $120,000 in student loans, automobile and credit card debt.) The mountain was so big, that it sometimes felt as though we would never make much progress. Fortunately, that didn’t deter us from doing everything we could to cut back, earn more and uncover every single place where money was slipping through our hands.
Somewhere along the way, I heard about Illinois Treasurer’s I-Cash Program and decided to search the online database for my name. No luck. But then, it occurred to me to look under my maiden name. I found a record! I completed the claim form, printed and mailed it to the treasurer’s office. Within a few weeks, I received a check for a little over $300 from a job I had worked when I was 17!
In the grand scheme of things, that $300 check made only a tiny dent in our debt repayment, but it did boost our confidence and let us know we were on the right path. It was just the encouragement we needed to keep going and complete the process of digging out of debt. I still have vivid memories around getting that check and being so thankful for the mental refreshing it provided in a difficult, often discouraging journey for our family. In 2013, we actually did finish the process and paid off all of our debt to become totally and utterly debt-free!
Another time, I had a relative who was between jobs and money was getting tight. I had the idea of searching their name in the Illinois Treasurer’s I-Cash Program database. I searched under all of their aliases and I am so glad I did! All in all, there were probably 20 or more properties that belonged to them, some going back 10, 15 or 20 years! We completed the claim form and voila, a $1,200 check came in the mail in just a few short weeks. My relative was totally relieved that this money came right on time to take care of household obligations while they were in the process of securing another job.
If you are looking for money for yourself or a relative here are my suggestions:
- Check all aliases like maiden name, married name, hyphenated and unhyphenated variations of a name.
- To complete a claim, you’ll have to prove residency for the address tied to the property. I’ve found that the easiest way to do this is by pulling a credit report, which keeps track of all your addresses. There are many places online where you can get a credit report for free. Use this report to verify your claim with the Illinois Treasurer’s I-Cash Program.
- If you don’t find any property in your name right away, check back every 6 months because new unclaimed properties are being added regularly.
As you can see, there is real money out there waiting for people to claim it. Go ahead and check out the database for yourself at IllinoisTreasurer.gov/ICASH. It only takes a moment to make a discovery that could change your financial future!
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