Employers turn over unclaimed paychecks to state departments each year. Do you have missing money or uncashed checks from a previous job? Numerous people have $1000s in uncashed paychecks and don’t even know it! Your chances of having this lost or missing money increase if you change jobs frequently or have lived in multiple states in a short period of time.
Typically, your uncashed payroll checks are held by the employer for a designated amount of time before being sent to the state for safekeeping. Learn how to find out if you have missing wages and how to claim them below.
An “escheated check” is a term for a paycheck that gets turned over to the state because it has not been cashed by the recipient. When your employer pays you, they expect you to deposit it into a bank account or cash the payment.
If you don’t cash it in a specific amount of time, it gets flagged as unclaimed.
In most states, you have between 1 and 5 years to cash or deposit your paycheck before it becomes unclaimed. After that, the paycheck is given to the state to hold until you (the rightful owner) come forward to claim it.
Before unclaimed paychecks are given to the state though, employers must make an effort to get in touch with you. They may try to reach you via phone, mail or email to notify you about your unclaimed check.
The most common reasons for wages and salaries to go unclaimed are:
- You change jobs frequently.
- You moved without notifying your employer of your current address.
- You quit or resigned and forgot to pick up your last check.
- Your direct deposit information is wrong.
If you think you have one or more uncashed payroll checks, don’t worry – your employer is not legally allowed to keep them.
It is illegal for employers to keep or spend their employees’ checks. Doing so results in hefty fines and penalties imposed by the federal government, so many employers turn them over to the state almost immediately – even years before they are legally required to do so.