Money Talks: Don't Pay to Find Lost Money

Nothing's nicer than finding some cash in a pocket you forgot you had.

Even better, though: opening an envelope and seeing you've got $150 you didn't know you had.

I recently got something in the mail saying I was owed $150 - and this company would collect it for me for $29.

This is an example of unclaimed property - and an example of a company trying to make money off of it.But instead of paying this company, I did what they did. I went online and just looked it up myself.

I went to this site: And sure enough, there it is: a $150 unclaimed rebate check from Office Depot. In a matter of minutes, I downloaded a form, filled it out, and my money should soon be on the way.

According to the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators, about 1 in 8 Americans has some money out there trying to find them. So take a minute or two, go online and start a treasure hunt.

First stop? Where I went: You can also check your state's website for unclaimed property.

And don't forget to check other states where you've lived also.

Next? This US government site lets you find unclaimed pension money, investor class action settlements, unclaimed tax refunds, mortgage insurance refunds and more.

Things like old stock certificates require a different approach. For these, you'll want detailed instructions from this SEC website.

Bottom line? Your treasure hunt may be un-productive, but you can do it during a commercial break - and you certainly don't need to pay somebody else to do it for you. Want links? I've got em - just go to Money Talks and do a search for "Missing Money."

For Money Talks News, I'm Stacy Johnson.