En español | Anybody with an e-mail account has received one of these mysterious messages from the third cousin of the exiled King of Burundi, claiming that — upon His Highness's untimely death — you have been left his personal fortune of $3.2 billion. Or maybe you have won a sweepstakes you never recall entering. All you need to do to claim your fortune is turn over your bank account and other personal financial information.
See also: Five common money mistakes.
Everybody knows that's a scam. But it is possible that you are entitled to money or other property that's just out there waiting for you to claim it. Here are some legitimate — and free — online resources to check out:
Help from NAUPA: NAUPA (National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators) is a nonprofit organization endorsing two websites — unclaimed.org and MissingMoney.com — that can help you find unclaimed funds and other property held by the states. This may include monies due you or family members from such sources as forgotten bank accounts and inheritances, utility bill refunds, or security deposits. NAUPA estimates that about one out of every eight Americans is entitled to unclaimed assets, with the average claim being about $1,000. I didn’t believe it until I visited NAUPA's website and discovered that my family was due about $120 from a long-forgotten savings account my grandmother opened years before she died.
Unclaimed U.S. savings bonds: Maybe a relative gave you a savings bond when you were a kid and you forgot about it? Search the U.S. Treasury website at www.TreasuryHunt.gov.