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Get ‘Lost’ Money Returned to You — Here’s How

It's like finding ten bucks in your pocket — only better.


It’s spring, and the weather is finally warm enough to don a lighter jacket. You pull yours out of storage, put it on, and step outside. But wait — what’s this in the pocket? Ten dollars! There’s nothing better than finding unexpected cash; it feels like you didn’t even have to work for it, although somewhere in the past you did. And believe it or not, there’s a good chance you’ve got even more cash waiting for you, somewhere other than a jacket pocket — even if you think you don’t. Here are some simple ways to get lost money returned to you.

Log on here to check old accounts.

A whopping one in four of us have cash left behind in old bank accounts, rental deposits, utilities, stocks, insurance benefits and more waiting to be claimed. Logging on to the free search website is one way to find out if you’ve got funds waiting for you somewhere. An even faster way: Visit your state’s treasury department by searching online for “Department of Treasury” and the state where you currently live or work, or where you have lived or worked in the past. State treasurers are eager to find rightful owners of unclaimed property, so many have set up their own streamlined search engine that locates money you may have in that state, then instantly creates a claim so you get it returned more quickly. Tip: Unclaimed property is reported to the treasurer’s office twice each year, so bookmark your state’s treasury website and check back every six months.

Look for these rebates.

Love when stores offer rebates on purchases? Federal, state, and local governments offer rebates too — and you could qualify to receive one or more, giving you cash back on payments you’ve already made or plan to make! For instance, in Pennsylvania, seniors, widows/widowers, and disabled residents on limited budgets may be eligible for a rebate on property taxes or rent they paid in 2022 by applying at And as part of the recently passed federal Inflation Reduction Act, taxpayers across the US could receive thousands of dollars in rebates on upgrades that you make to weatherize your home and improve energy efficiency, such as electric appliances, insulation, thermostats, and water heaters. To learn which ones qualify for a rebate, visit


Lottery ticket didn’t win? Don’t toss it! Most states let you enter losing tickets in “second chance” drawings for unclaimed prizes of thousands or even a million dollars. Check the back of your ticket or the website for your lottery game for entry rules

Scope out tax refunds.

Surprise! You could be due a tax refund that you weren’t expecting! Sometimes federal and state governments discover that certain taxpayers accidentally overpaid, laws change in ways that impact tax refunds, or new programs are introduced to help taxpayers during economic hardships. For example, the Internal Revenue Service recently sent refunds averaging $1,232 to folks who were overcharged on taxes for unemployment compensation received in 2020. To find out if you may have a surprise tax refund on the way, visit for federal refunds and the website for your state’s Department of Treasury and Department of Revenue for state refunds.

Reactivate lost loyalty rewards.

Frustrated when loyalty rewards expire before you can use them? More businesses are offering easy tactics to give you more time to redeem them! Hallmark’s Crown Rewards program will reissue one expired reward per year per person within six months of its expiration date, and its Reward Dollars can be used for up to 45 days after they expire. Have frequent flier miles? Airlines typically give you six to 24 months to redeem them, but if you haven’t had the time to travel, many programs (like American Airlines’ AAdvantage and Spirit’s Free Spirit) allow you to extend the deadline by earning new rewards or redeeming current ones by doing business with partnering restaurants and retail stores. Call your program’s customer service number for more information.

Saving science!

Throw away junk mail without opening it? You may be tossing prepaid debit cards or checks payable to you. Many businesses and government entities send money via snail mail for all sorts of reasons, like rebates, reimbursements, and state stimulus funds. But to help thwart theft, they often arrive looking like nondescript junk. So what should you look for? Return addresses from post office (P.O.) boxes, plain white envelopes or a state emblem.

A version of this article originally appeared in our print magazine, Woman’s World.

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