Search Strategies

The following is a list of tried and true search strategies to use when doing an online search.

1. Search all names            examples

Last, First                         Johnson Ellen
Last                                  Johnson

Maiden Name(s)                Smith Ellen
Variations on name           Eleanor, Elle (any nicknames you might have gone by)
Initials                               Johnson

2.   Extend the search display 

Some but not all, online searches allow you to determine how many results will be displayed. This feature allows a view of more accounts with your name and names like yours. You may find a family member or…  If an extend feature is not present, view pages before and after the initial display.

3.    Check common misspellings 

E.g. If your last name is Burgess, try Burgus, or Bergess etc. Note misspellings typo’s etc. may be the reason a record is in the unclaimed bin. Maybe a clerk misread information from hand written form or… We’re all human…

4.    Hyphens and Spaces

If you have a hyphen or a space in your name try searching with and without the hyphen or space e.g. Smith-Barney  SmithBarney, Smith Barney, McDonald, Mc Donald. Remember data bases are unforgiving and you must type an exact match for an account to show!

5.     Shorten your search criteria

Type just the first 3-4 letters of your name.
This enables you to see a larger portion of a data base that may contain your name. It makes it easier to see possible misspellings or possibly find a family member.

6.    Search all the states you have lived or worked

Most states have no statute of limitations on how long they’ll hold your money. If you believe you have unclaimed money call or write your state and ask the procedure for conducting a manual search that covers the time period in question. See the States section of this e-Book for contact information on your state. Be aware unclaimed funds are usually turned over to the state of your last known address.

7.    When unclaimed funds may be from a business

It’s possible the business may not have your last address and in such case the money is returned to the state the business in which that is has incorporated. If you don’t know what state the

8.     Look for funds the deceased

The fact there is no statute of limitations on claiming (most states),  it’s probable a significant if not great portion of all unclaimed funds belong to people no longer walking amongst us. Relatives can claim funds for the deceased.

9.    Search for the names of business

E.g. Scott’s Florist, Scotts Florist, Florist by itself and then look for the town.

10. Search by City

A number of states allow you to search by both name and city – some even by city alone.

11. Call for a manual search

Check with your state’s unclaimed property office. Some states will search for you. In some cases their data bases may be more recent or go back further in time. In addition most states hold outreach events in the community which are posted on their website.

12. Nothing found in your name, look for others – search for your:


Great grandparents
Non-Profit organization
Circle of friends

13. Verify a record found is really you

It’s a big world and you’d be surprised how many people there are who have your name. Pay attention to the middle name, the city. Did you ever live/work there. Is that actually you?

14. Keep trying

Money is constantly being turned over to the state. NY collected $1 billion in 2010 alone. New funds are being added regularly. Keep trying even when you find something – there may be more…

15. The secret is search, search, search

Check with your state’s unclaimed property office. Many states will search for you and in some cases the data base they use is more current and goes further back in time. In addition look for community outreach events in from the department of unclaimed property of your state.