The surprising truth about unclaimed money: Internet ScamBusters #100
Today is our 100th issue — and this month marks the tenth anniversary of Internet ScamBusters. We truly appreciate all of you — our subscribers — and it’s been a wonderful experience helping make the Net a bit safer.
On to today’s topic: unclaimed money, unclaimed property, and unclaimed funds. This is actually a very interesting topic, because there is… surprisingly… a lot of truth to real unclaimed money — probably a lot more than most of our subscribers would suspect.
It’s also important because it provides another example of an old ‘favorite’: the 809 scam. We’ll help you figure out the truth about finding unclaimed money, property, and funds — and how to avoid getting scammed.
Let’s get started…
Unclaimed Money Scams
Who wouldn’t want to find free or unclaimed money that legitimately belongs to you? Free or unclaimed money is very appealing to many people — especially if it’s legitimate.
The interesting thing is that there really is unclaimed money and unclaimed funds available — in fact, there are huge amounts of it. Much of it belongs to people who have passed away. And much of it is just forgotten.
However, finding free or unclaimed money on the Net is one of the oldest scams in the book, so red flags should go off whenever you read anything about this.
For example, there is a very popular unclaimed money scam going around right now via email. One such email starts off: “There’s over 400 billion dollars in unclaimed money in North America — and some of it belongs to you!”
(How do they know?)
Another email starts off: “You are owed money. Nine out of ten people over the age of 25 are owed money they didn’t know they had, and you are one of them!”
(Again, how do they know?)
These emails go on to claim that Oprah recently did a show on this unclaimed money phenomenon, and that it’s been documented that ’9 out of 10 people are owed money’ by the country’s banks and other financial institutes.
Finally, comes the pitch — the company that’s sending you the email will, of course, help you locate your unclaimed money. All you need to do is call this particular 1-809 number ‘right now’!
The company claims that they’ll do a ‘search’ for free, and that you don’t have to pay them anything until they’ve found your money. And even then, they’ll only take 15%.
What they DON’T tell you is that they’re going to make money on that 1-809 call they’ve convinced you to make, for starters.
In fact, this is one the most popular 809 phone scams going on right now. You can read more about 809 scams here.
They also don’t tell you that they’ll send you a ‘refined’ search that includes your last name and first initial in an official looking database list, and then they’ll tell you that although they can’t guarantee it’s you, you’ll need to pay a fee (or perhaps buy a membership) before they’ll check any further.
If you’d like to read a popular version of this unclaimed money and unclaimed funds scam email that’s going around, click here now.
Besides the 809 scam, what are the other fraudulent aspects of the types of email?
First, they are spam, so you know that the chance is at least 95% that they are fraudulent. Second, almost all want to charge you a fee to help you reclaim the money — something you can do for free for yourself (see below)
Others charge the fee even if they simply locate the $2.64 you left behind in a paper route account when you were 12. And still others are aimed at getting your personal information, most likely to get bank account numbers or other financial information in order to commit identity theft.
The good news is that you can do this research for free — and see if there is really any unclaimed money or property owed to you. And you can do this without paying any fees!
Here are the state-sanctioned unclaimed funds registries…
National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators
(Click on the link for ‘Owners’ and then click on the link to ‘Find Property’ — this will let you select your state.)
Both of these sites link you to databases in each state where you can do the search online.
Using unclaimed.org, we actually found a couple of hundred dollars of funds that belonged to Audri’s father after he passed away. So, we can vouch that there is actually unclaimed money to be found. Good luck finding unclaimed money that might belong to you!
We are now going to celebrate our tenth ScamBusters anniversary — and we hope you have a wonderful week.