Just over a month ago, I was logging into Credit Karma to check my current credit score estimates and noticed a targeted message on the login page: “We found $71.40 that might be yours, Noah”. At first I tried to brush it off as just another ad, but it managed to keep my interest because it was so specific!
Both the specific dollar amount of “$71.40” and my name (easy to grab via internet cookies from the last time I logged in) were enough to make me click through and find out what they were talking about.
As it turns out, they directed me over to the official Indiana Unclaimed property website where I was able to search my name. Just like magic, my name popped up with $71.40 in unclaimed money that was apparently owed to me. Luckily my name is very unique, so I was confident it was meant for me, but where did it come from?
I’ll break down my investigation and the process I went through to get this mysterious money in Indiana sent to me way over in the state of Washington.
Why Was I Owed $71.40?
Luckily, these unclaimed property websites (I think most states have them) don’t require figuring out where the money came from, but I was definitely curious. Wouldn’t you be?
There were two big clues to go from on the Indiana Unclaimed website:
- Holder Reporting Funds: STUBHUB INC
- Type of Funds Reported: VENDOR CHECK
So it looks like StubHub owed me money, but chose to send it to Indiana Unclaimed instead of letting me know through email or something else? The address listed on the unclaimed property is my parent’s house and they still live there, so it doesn’t appear they tried to reach out via mail either. Weird…
So where did the $71.40 come from? I started on the StubHub website attempting to look back at previous sales, but their account history doesn’t seem to extend beyond 6 months. Useless.
Next, I searched through my email (because pretty much never deleting email comes in handy for situations like this) and was able to locate the ticket sale in question: B.O.B. tickets to a concert at the college I was attending back in 2012.
Being the young entrepreneur I was, I would often purchase concert tickets during the student pre-sale for events on campus and then flip them on StubHub to turn a small profit.
Side Note: Most of these ticket sales were slim margins, I’d often only make enough money for a couple beers. But one time I got really lucky and managed to grab front row tickets for Macklemore right around the time he was blowing up (Thrift Shop I think just hit it big). I paid $29 per ticket and managed to sell them on StubHub for $299 each, netting me $254 after StubHub’s cut. Subtract out the ticket cost and I made $225 per ticket or a ~770% profit! I actually turned around and bought an average ticket for ~$50 (I still wanted to go to the concert), so you could almost say I got paid to attend that concert. It was an awesome concert by the way.
Anyway, this B.O.B. concert wasn’t a big seller and I ended up dropping my price near face value to get them sold a few days before the event. My ticket price for this concert was $29.50 (face value was higher because of the student discount) and I manged to get $35.70 after StubHub’s cut per ticket, and I sold two tickets, therefore I was owed the magic number of $71.40.
What makes this sale interesting is that the same day StubHub sent the “Payment Processed” email, the concert was cancelled and I got another email from StubHub saying I wouldn’t be paid for the ticket sale:
Looking back through old bank records, I was finally able to put it all together. In theory I should have ended up with $0 in either direction with all the refunds. Here’s what actually happened:
- I paid $59 for two tickets during the student pre-sale
- I listed them on StubHub where they eventually sold for $84, or $71.40 after taxes
- StubHub “mailed” me a check for $71.40*
- Concert was cancelled
- I received a refund of $59 from the venue selling the tickets
- StubHub charged my card $71.40 because the concert and therefore sale was cancelled
In theory, everything here should be fine but the problem is that I never received that $71.40 check from StubHub. My guess is the timing of the payment processing and concert being cancelled caused their system to think they had paid me when they actually hadn’t yet. I also can’t rule out the check being lost in the mail because sharing a house in college with ~40 other people means mail accuracy definitely doesn’t reach 100%.
Regardless, this mysterious check that may or may not have existed was never cashed, so StubHub eventually handed the funds over to the state I had listed as my address, leading to this adventure almost 5 years later.
Actually Getting the Money Back
At this point I went from 99% confident it was my money to 100% after putting the pieces together, so how do I go about getting it back?
The Indiana Unclaimed website actually made the process pretty seamless. I was able to “Claim” that particular piece of property, filled out a couple forms with standard info (name, address, SSN, etc.), and was given a printout and list of documents to mail in:
The claim form was provided by the website, so I just had to print and sign it. I decided to go a little heavy on the documents so I didn’t have to send additional documentation because we were dealing with cross-country physical mail. So I ended up including:
- Completed and signed claim form
- A copy of my driver’s license (which has an old address on it still…)
- A copy of the old email from StubHub saying they mailed me a check for $71.40
- A copy of an old W-2 that had my name and the reported address for the unclaimed property
- A copy of a current utility bill with my name and present address (where I wanted them to mail the check)
Using our food scale to weigh the standard size envelope, I was over the standard 1 oz limit with all of that packed in and ended up applying 2 stamps before mailing it off.
About a month later, I received my check for $71.40 in the mail and was finally made whole again on that concert reselling adventure back in 2012.
Check for Your Own Unclaimed Property!
Whenever I saw advertisements for unclaimed property, I always assumed that was for “other” people who couldn’t keep track of their finances and long lost relatives that left money to people the state couldn’t track down. Turns out I was wrong and luckily Credit Karma was able to catch my mistake and alert me when I logged in.
In fact, I was able to search the Indiana Unclaimed website with just my last name and managed to stumble on a little bit of money owed to an aunt and uncle of mine from an insurance company! I imagine there are all kinds of places that end up sending funds to the state because it’s easier than tracking down the owners themselves.
It’s free to check, so give it a shot. You can either use Credit Karma like I did (HERE) or just visit the respective unclaimed websites of any states you’ve lived in past or present. You’ll have to google for the websites yourself, but I can’t imagine it’s hard to find. I would try “*STATE* Unclaimed Property” and it will probably be the first result.
These days, I track all of my money much more aggressively than I did back in college using tools like Mint and Personal Capital, so I’d like to think I won’t lose track of $71 again, but who knows! I’ll probably try to make checking a semi-regular habit, setting up a yearly Google Calendar alert to remind me wouldn’t be a bad idea.
Have you searched for unclaimed property recently? Let me know if you find anything interesting in the comments below!