Among the many get-rich-quick scams floating around out there, sometimes there’s information which actually leads to an individual getting some money, no strings attached. It’s happened to me more than once, in fact. Money doesn’t grow on trees, but it can appear seemingly from out of nowhere. What makes this truth stranger than fiction is that it usually involves people from the government who are here to help.
One function performed by government officials is keeping unclaimed money safe until the rightful owner claims it. The easiest ways to tell the difference between a legitimate unclaimed-funds operation and a scam is that government officials don’t call you, and there should be no charge to collect your money, at least in the United States. There’s an article on the site for the Federal Trade Commission which recommends five ways to best scammers:
- don’t wire money,
- don’t pay for any prize,
- don’t give financial or other personal information to someone who called you,
- don’t trust their official-sounding name and title, or what your caller ID displays because that can be manipulated, and
- put all your phone numbers on the [do not call registry, if only because the remaining unsolicited calls are almost certainly scammers.
This money comes from a variety of sources. I moved around fairly often in years past, and left a trail of bank accounts with small balances in my wake. Once bank officials realize they no longer have a clue how to contact the account holder, they’re required to turn the money over to the appropriate state agency. Something similar almost happened to me with an insurance company: I got a letter last month from a company that used to take my money, inquiring about a refund check sent to me in 2013 that I never cashed. Did I want that $300 back? Um, yes, I believe I do! If I hadn’t responded, the state comptroller would have gotten the check instead.
Once unclaimed money is sent to state officials, all the information known about the rightful owner is entered into a database. Names and addresses known to be associated with the account are compiled, and the information is uploaded to a searchable online database. For the United States, there’s no central place to look for unclaimed money, but this site is a good place to start. Getting a hit is just the start of the process: no money is getting released without some proof of identity. This is the government, after all; it’s not like they’re going to sell a surplus pre-nuclear submarine to someone giving just a post-office box number, after all.
I am not super fond of spells to get money quickly, but if and when I do cast one I always act in accordance with my will by checking for unclaimed funds (as well as in pants pockets, the lint trap of the dryer, and couch cushions). The twenty-dollar bill I discovered in my dry laundry is as much a manifestation of all that universal abundance as a winning lottery ticket, after all. This summer I got a check from Verizon as the result of some kind of settlement; I haven’t had a Verizon phone in at least four years, and did not see that coming. That money might have ended up manifesting as unclaimed funds had I moved since.
There are privacy concerns which arise from unclaimed funds, just as there are scam artists who try to take advantage of the concept. I see little downside to claiming money that is rightfully one’s own, but I do try to understand how my information is being aggregated and shared. How much information about privacy you find might depend upon the site, since governmental entities are often exempted from transparency laws. However, chances are if you’re not on the lam you’re not sharing anything new with a governmental entity.
To reiterate, then: if you’re in a position where you feel the need to work some prosperity magic, don’t forget to check on unclaimed funds as part of acting in accordance. It’s as close to free money as most of us are going to get.
Real money magic is part of a wider project, Thrifty Pagan Writings. If you think this stuff is utterly amazing, please convince me to start a Patreon account.