Hank Investigates: Cashing In on Missing Money

Did you work at a job for a few years and move on? You might be owed money! Hank found there’s literally billions of dollars out there waiting to be claimed, and some of it could be in yours! Hank investigates.

Judith Cambra says she spent the 70’s working on the front lines at the old Frito-Lay plant in Fall River, packing chips and Fritos, as a single mom providing for her children.

“I love them very much,” Judith said.

When the plant shut down she says her manager told her to call when she was 55 to get the pension she earned. So, 20 years ago, she did.  But the company had no records.

“Maybe they just misplaced it?” Judith asked.

Judith gave up. But she recently mentioned the pension to her daughter, Deb.

“I was just like what do you? What do you? What do you mean you didn’t do anything? Why didn’t you let me know?” Deb asked.

Deb, feeling that her mother deserved this money, tried hunting down the pension.

“I just want her to get this pension. It means so much to me,” Deb said.

And Judith isn’t alone. Other people are missing out on money too.  We found the feds estimate 25 million Americans have left retirement benefits behind.

“A lot of times when somebody earns a pension, they’re young and they’re not thinking about the mechanics of how they’re going to find that pension again when they retire,” Anna-Marie Tabor, Director of the Pension Action Center said.

Companies change names, merge, and close.

Problem is, there’s no easy way to find your money, no central website, or agency to contact.

“Doesn’t the company have to find you?” Hank asked.

“The reality is they’re not required to put a lot of time or effort or money into those searches. And so at the end of the day, it really, unfortunately, is on the person,” Anna-Marie said.

In Judith’s case, we contacted Frito-Lay who told us, “We are committed to working with Ms. Cambra to validate any outstanding benefits as a result of her employment with Frito-Lay.”

Soon after the company sent Judith forms to fill out.

“You don’t, you don’t know what this means to me because my mom deserves this pension,” Deb said.

Now it looks like, Judith may finally get it.

“Thank you so much. I really appreciate it,” Judith said.

There’s a bill pending in Congress that calls for creating a national online “lost and found” to make it easier for people to track down their retirement benefits.

Resources to help find a lost or forgotten pension, 401(k) or retirement account

New England residents can call the Pension Action Center: 1-888-425-6067, or go to:  www.umb.edu/pensionaction.

The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) has a publication about finding lost pensions: https://www.pbgc.gov/Documents/finding-a-lost-pension.pdf.

If you worked for a company that went bankrupt PBGC may have information.

The Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA) has benefits advisors who can help answer questions about retirement accounts and pensions. The number for their office in Boston is 617-565-9600.

The Social Security Administration offers information about pensions:

https://www.dol.gov/sites/dolgov/files/ebsa/about-ebsa/our-activities/resource-center/faqs/ssa-potential-private-benefit-information-notice.pdf.

Also try checking state lost property databases: www.missingmoney.com

There are also private databases, for example: https://www.unclaimedretirementbenefits.com/

If you have a story idea or tip for Hank to Investigate email: TellHank@whdh.com

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