Is the U.S. unclaimed money a scam?


Quick Answer

Unclaimed money from the U.S. government is a legitimate reality for some citizens; however, many scams exist. Money becomes unclaimed when an individual does not collect on funds owed by a bank, fiduciary entity or the government, according to USA.gov. But beware, dishonest individuals take advantage of this fact.

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Full Answer

In most cases, unclaimed money must be sought. Each state maintains a database of missing money. The National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators hosts a free-to-use website where individuals can search for unclaimed funds by state. Users have peace of mind knowing any information found using government-affiliated websites is legitimate and scam-free.

Government impostors trying to scam individuals out of money often use official-looking documents and websites, but these con artists ask for money before delivering rewards. Scammers may ask their victims for personal information or account numbers. They demand taxes and service fees to be paid upfront and often request wire transfers to foreign countries, reports the Federal Trade Commission.

Never wire money to unknown entities to avoid becoming a victim of an unclaimed money scam. Never pay for a prize or give a caller financial information or personal numbers. Governments do not call to collect debts, and legitimate lotteries do not seek cash before disbursing prizes. To avoid telemarketers and over-the-phone scams, enter all phone numbers into the National Do Not Call Registry, recommends the FTC.

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