Note: This NBC 5 Investigates story was originally published on Nov. 16, 2021 but has been re-posted in light of recent inquiries from viewers looking for information.
The NBC 5/Telemundo Chicago Investigative and Responds teams have been researching billions of dollars owed to millions of people across the greater Chicago area, mostly from places people aren’t aware of: bankruptcy refunds, unpaid wages, insurance refunds and Chicago's trove of uncashed checks, among many others.
Do you qualify for money? Check each of the resources below. We'll be adding more lists of unclaimed money in the weeks and months to come.
HUD INSURANCE REFUNDS
If you ever paid off a mortgage insured by the Federal Housing Authority, you may be due a refund of the insurance premiums you paid on that mortgage. NBC5 and Telemundo Responds have found more than $16 million due to more than 30,000 families in the greater Chicago area, who paid insurance premiums to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development for their FHA-backed loans.
WHERE TO LOOK: We’ve created an exclusive search tool for all money owed to people in the greater Chicago area, including northwest Indiana and southeast Wisconsin. If you find your name in the list below, you should then go to HUD’s online search tool where you can start the process of claiming a refund.
HOW TO CLAIM YOUR MONEY: Make sure and search every possible name listed on your FHA mortgage, because HUD’s search tool seems to works for a single name. Other mortgagees will appear in the results, but they’re not searchable on their own. If you find a refund, HUD says you should call the department’s support center at 1-800-697-6967, or email them at firstname.lastname@example.org. You will be then asked to fill out an application and submit documentation.
"WOW" (WORKERS OWED WAGES) FROM THE U.S. DEPARTMENT OF LABOR
If a former employer did not pay you, it’s possible that the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD) is holding your back wages. WHD looks for employers who violate labor laws, and the division often recovers unpaid wages on behalf of employees. If WHD can’t track down an employee, they hold their back wages for three years, before sending the money to the U.S. Treasury.
WHERE TO LOOK: Start with this page on USDOL’s website, which spells out the process of finding and recovering lost wages. Press “begin here” at the bottom of the page; then search for your employer. Make sure and search by all variations of the employer’s name.
HOW TO CLAIM YOUR MONEY: If you’re listed on the USDOL search site, fill out your contact information, and DOL will e-mail you a Back Wage Claim Form. You’ll need to complete the form; sign it; attach required supporting documents, and create an account at login.gov to upload all of your material. The Wage and Hour Division says it takes eight to 10 weeks to process a claim.
COOK COUNTY PROPERTY TAX REFUNDS
Cook County Treasurer Maria Pappas wants to see if she owes you money. Pappas’ office says it has a total of more than $72 million it wants to refund to property owners, and another $43 million in missing exemptions.
WHERE TO LOOK: If you’re a homeowner in Cook County, Pappas’ office has a search tool where you can check to see if you have a refund coming your way.
HOW TO CLAIM YOUR MONEY: Search by your address or your Property Index Number (PIN). Then look for the section that says, “Are There Any Overpayments on your PIN?” and – if there are – fill out the online application to start the process of getting your money back.
CHICAGO’S UNCASHED CHECKS
NBC 5 Investigates and Telemundo Investiga have discovered that the City of Chicago is holding more than $12 million in uncashed checks due to more than 19,000 people and businesses across the Chicago area, including many who are current city employees. We found checks dating as far back as 1987, with individual amounts ranging from a few cents, up to more than half a million dollars.
WHERE TO LOOK: There’s no easy way to know if you’re due any of these checks, because the city does not make its list public unless someone knows to ask for it. We had to file a Freedom of Information request to get it. And Chicago does not follow state law that requires cities to turn over their uncashed checks to the Illinois Treasurer, so people are not able find them on the state’s ICash website.
So NBC 5 Investigates and Telemundo Investiga created our own search tool, so that you can check for any uncashed checks the city may be holding for you:
HOW TO CLAIM YOUR MONEY: If you find money, the Chicago Department of Finance posts two claim forms to get it: This one for individuals to fill out, and this one for businesses. The city also says you can email email@example.com with any questions about making a claim for your money.
UNCLAIMED MONEY FROM BANKRUPTCY CASES
NBC 5 Investigates and Telemundo Investiga have found a total $16,434,927.20 in unclaimed funds from bankruptcy cases in Illinois and across the greater Chicago area, currently due to more than 70,000 creditors, including unclaimed amounts as high as $24,305.92, in local cases that date back to 1966. Nationwide, NBC 5 Investigates has found unclaimed bankruptcy money due to more than 915,000 creditors.
WHERE TO LOOK: We’ve created this exclusive search tool, where you can check for unclaimed funds from local bankruptcy cases. Our tool includes all unclaimed money kept in five area bankruptcy courts: Illinois’ Northern District (ILNB); Central District (ILCB) and Southern District (ILSB); Indiana’s Northern District (INNB), and Wisconsin’s Eastern District (WIEB), as of November of 2021.
You can also search for unclaimed bankruptcy funds, nationwide, through the U.S. Courts Unclaimed Funds Locator.
HOW TO CLAIM YOUR MONEY: If you find money, follow the instructions that apply to the court where your unclaimed funds are being kept:
- Use this form, with instructions here, to claim money held by the Northern District of Illinois Bankruptcy Court;
- For money held by the Northern District of Indiana Bankruptcy Court, call the court’s main phone number at (574) 968-2100.
- For money held by the Eastern District of Wisconsin Bankruptcy Court, call the court’s main phone number at (414) 297-3291.
- Use this form, with instructions here, to claim money held by the Central District of Illinois Bankruptcy Court;
- And use this form, with these instructions, to claim money held by the Southern District of Illinois Bankruptcy Court.
STATE OF ILLINOIS UNCLAIMED FUNDS
You may already know about Illinois’ ICash search site, but – even if you do – you should check it again. The Illinois State Treasurer is currently holding more than $3.5 billion in unclaimed funds for tens of millions of people – and that could include you, your family or your friends.
WHERE TO LOOK: The state of Illinois adds new property to the list all the time, which means that even if you’ve claimed money from the state before, there may be new money waiting for you now. You can search for all unclaimed funds here.
HOW TO CLAIM YOUR MONEY: NBC 5 Investigates and Telemundo Chicago Investiga have found that names and addresses are often misspelled on this list, and many people are listed at residences they haven’t occupied for decades, so you may find extra money if you try different spellings or look for old addresses. If you do find money, press the “claim” button for each unclaimed property and fill out the online form. The state will then send you an email, which will include another form that shows the exact amounts due to you.
And now, you may even get more money: The State of Illinois is now required to pay interest on much of its unclaimed property, depending on when someone claims it and when it was turned over to the state. You can find details on that on the treasurer’s FAQ page.
**Editor's note: Did you find money due to you from the City of Chicago, the Cook County Treasurer’s Office, Illinois’ Unclaimed Funds or a bankruptcy claim? We want to know when you receive your money or if you’re having long-term problems claiming it. Fill out our form here!