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Tom: We have a great topic this morning – how to take care of your old 401k accounts.

Mellody:  This is a very important topic, and it has come to my attention that some of your listeners are unsure of what to do with – or where to find! – their old 401k accounts. It is understandable in this day and age, with people changing jobs frequently and everything migrating to online management that accounts are forgotten or lost. But they are holding your money, and your future hostage, so you want to make sure you track them down and make them work for you. This morning, I am going to tell you how to do that.

Tom: First, how do we locate old accounts?

Mellody: The best method to locate an old 401k account that you haven’t kept track of is to contact your previous employer, and ask them to provide you with the plan administrator information. Then you can just contact the administrator. If you are not sure whether you participated or not, this is also a good option. Contact your old employers and ask them if you ever participated in their 401k plan. Remember to have your full name, Social Security number and the dates you worked for them ready when you talk to them.

Sometimes, it isn’t as easy as just calling up an old employer, due to mergers, bankruptcies, relocations, or other events. If this is the case for you, try to locate an old 401k plan statement to see if it contains any contact information for the firm that administered the plan. If it does, call them and ask if they can check on your account. Another route you can take is to seek out former employees you worked with to see if they still have any records that will help you locate the company that administered the plan.

Tom: Are those the only options? What if we do not have any of those paths open? 

Mellody: There are a few more ways to track down your old accounts. Because most plans are required to file an annual “form 5500” with the government, you can search for your former employer’s 5500 on a number of websites, like If you can find a form 5500 on an old plan, it will have contact information. You can also check with the national registry of unclaimed benefits to see if your former employer has listed you as a missing participant.

The registry is a nation-wide, secure database listing of retirement plan account balances that have been left unclaimed. This website is designed to help match employers with abandoned or forgotten employee retirement account balances with the former employees. Finally, you may also find information at the Labor Department’s abandoned plan database. This search helps you find out whether a plan is in the process of being, or has been, terminated and the name of the qualified termination administrator, who you can then contact about your account.

Monday Mondays: How To Track Down Old 401K Accounts  was originally published on

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