Dividends are a taxable payment declared by a business or entity for the shareholders of a company. The amount is paid out of retained earnings and is usually paid quarterly by the board of directors. While companies are not required to pay a dividend, it provides an incentive for owning the stock, especially for low-growth, stable companies. These are companies that have outgrown their need to reinvest all profits into operations, so they pay them out to shareholders. There are two primary reasons that unclaimed dividends occur: They are either undeliverable or were never cashed.
Contact the company or corporation that issued the dividend. Investor Relations is the department that handles all investment-related issues.
Ask the representative for a form to claim unclaimed dividends. You will be asked for proof of stock ownership and to sign an affidavit swearing to your claim.
Inquire about the response timeline. Firms have their own procedures and timelines for how to handle unclaimed dividends, so be sure to ask when you will receive a response and how the response will be delivered.
Contact the FDIC. The FDIC (Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation) is one of the largest holders of unclaimed or unpaid dividends. If a financial institution is closed, the FDIC is the regulated receiver and is responsible for the payment of insured funds. This includes dividend checks issued that were undeliverable or never cashed by banks. Go to the FDIC website and look up your financial institution within the database (see Resources for a link to both the website look-up function and form). You will be asked to provide your name as well as the name, city and state of the financial institution you would like to make a claim with.