Found money? I hope so
September 9, 2013 6:55 PM   Subscribe

I contributed money to several different 401(k)s over the last decade and I have no idea where the accounts are. Help me find my money.

I've worked a half dozen different jobs over the last 10 years. At two (or possibly three) of those jobs, I contributed some cash to a 401(k). Since then, I've lived at numerous different addresses, crossed several state lines, and completely lost track of the accounts. I would like to track these accounts down and possibly roll them into one single account so I can actually keep track of it. The amount of money isn't life changing (less than $10,000) but it's still my money and I'd like to have it. How can I go about doing this?

Assume I have no contacts at any of these former jobs and I have no real paperwork to speak of from them. Anonymous because I don't want financial information tied to my account but any questions can be emailed to
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (10 answers total) 19 users marked this as a favorite
I would go to the Secretary of State's website for every state you lived in and search for lost property. Your name will be there if the firm holding the 401k escheated your money back to the state.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 7:01 PM on September 9, 2013 [3 favorites]

If these are big companies where you worked I would start by calling the investment companies which are most likely to manage the funds. Start with Vanguard, Fidelity, Schwab, Morgan Stanley, etc. and ask for them to look up accounts based upon your SS#...If you google the company you worked for and 401k or benefits that might also get you the right phone number to start with...HR at the company should be able to get you in touch with the right people...
posted by NoDef at 7:03 PM on September 9, 2013

Try these suggestions for finding old 401(k) accounts.

I'd try first (their 3rd suggestion). You have to sign up but it's free. They are spammy, but just use a throwaway email. Good luck!

I agree with NoDef also. I work for a big provider, if you feel OK with it, memail me & I'll see if you're in our system (and I can usually do it by name instead of SSN, unless your name is John Smith or something).
posted by peep at 7:25 PM on September 9, 2013

Assume I have no contacts at any of these former jobs

I don't think this matters. I had an account like this and always knew I'd have to contact the former employer if I ever wanted to roll the account into an IRA. I always thought it was odd that I had to contact them and not the provider, but that's how it worked. It always felt like a hassle, so I continued to put it off. I finally just wanted it done, so I exchanged emails with a staff person who didn't know me but knew the process, she emailed me immediately with a pre-filled pdf and that was that. I just had to complete it and send it on to the provider.

Just contact the HR department or office manager for those former employers and tell them you want to roll over an old 401k account. I believe they'll be familiar with your needs.
posted by AnOrigamiLife at 8:01 PM on September 9, 2013 [3 favorites]

Just contact the HR department or office manager for those former employers and tell them you want to roll over an old 401k account.

Seconded. It doesn't matter if you have "contacts" such as work friends or a professional reference or whatever; as long as you can literally get a hold of them to reach HR, they should be able to help you. You may have to write letters if they are the types of employers who are too gargantuan to just look up the HR department and/or if they actively conceal their telephone contact info. (But you should roughly be able to use the same contact info that is listed in the "job seekers / employment" section of the website, if it comes to that.) Be prepared to give your social security number and approximate dates of employment.
posted by Joey Buttafoucault at 8:08 PM on September 9, 2013 [1 favorite]

NAUPA (National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators Searchable by state. Just click on the state in question.
posted by Michele in California at 8:51 PM on September 9, 2013 [1 favorite]

The first thing you need to do is have a place to put the money from those accounts. Here, you have three options.

1) You can cash out your accounts. But you will be charged a hefty penalty.

2) If you have a 401(k) with your current employer, you can contact your 401(k) provider and ask for rollover paperwork (and extra instructions).

3) You can open a Roth IRA and roll into that.
posted by jander03 at 9:46 PM on September 9, 2013 [1 favorite]

I would contact your former employers. Speak to HR. As long as the companies/organizations didn't completely go bankrupt and cease to exist, they should be able to tell you which firm they went through for their 401ks. Then just contact them, whether its Chase or Washington Mutual or whoever, and that should be all that's necessary.
posted by AppleTurnover at 10:12 PM on September 9, 2013

When I consolidated a bunch of old workplace pensions, the company that I was moving them _to_ was very helpful in doing a lot of the legwork to find and move the pensions. It was worth their while, since even though there wasn't a lot of money there at the time, I'm still making substantial contributions many years later.

I did enough research to tell them the names of the other pension companies that had my money, but they did the rest of it, just providing me with some forms to sign.

I'm not in the same country as you so YMMV but it could be worth a try!
posted by emilyw at 5:09 AM on September 10, 2013 [1 favorite]

Contact your former employers (if large companies, their Benefits Center or HR department) to ask what companies ran their 401(k) plans. Call those companies and see if they can get your account information based on your SS#.

I Am Not A Financial Advisor. You might want to roll over the old 401(k) money into an IRA. Another option would be to roll the money into your current employer's 401(k), assuming they have one.
posted by tckma at 3:14 PM on September 10, 2013

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