EDISON - You could have missing money out there that you don’t know about. 

Maybe it’s a refund you’re due from a utility company, a dormant bank account, or a payout from a long-forgotten insurance policy. There is nearly $42 billion in unclaimed funds across the United States, and a growing number of businesses are offering to collect those funds for a share of the proceeds, usually between 10 and 20 percent. But before you respond to a letter or postcard from one of those firms, Kane In Your Corner says there could be something they aren’t telling you: you can easily collect that missing money yourself, at no cost, simply by doing a quick online search.

“It may seem like a good deal – gee, I’m going to get some money back,” says Bob Russo, president of the Consumers League of New Jersey, “but you don’t have to do that.” Russo says firms offering to collect missing money for a fee are not breaking the law but they’re not to your advantage.

A simple way to check if you are due unclaimed funds is to go to www.missingmoney.com, which will link to you government websites in all 50 states and let you search multiple states at once. Not all missing funds are in that database. For example, if you lost a savings bond, the government would not know it was lost and would therefore not report the bond as missing. However, missing bonds, and most other unclaimed assets not found in the state databases can also be accessed through the Missing Money site.