How to find lost dividends and shares

Replacing a Lost Certificate

Many people prefer to take delivery of and hold their stock certificates – a practice that has its advantages; the company knows how to reach you, and you will receive all company reports directly. You could also find it easier to put up your stocks as collateral on a loan when you are in possession of a physical certificate. However, natural disasters, fires and forgetfulness result in missing certificates. To replace them, call the investor relations department of the issuing company to find the name of the transfer agent for that company’s stock.

The transfer agent maintains the record of all stock issued and to whom, and can send you new share certificates after you have filled out certain legal forms and paid the required fees. Each transfer agent has a slightly different procedure, but each requires a legal testament that you lost the certificate, along with the purchase of a surety bond to protect against fraud if someone else attempts to sell the original certificates.

What is Scripophily?

The hobby of collecting old stock and bond certificates is called scripophily (pronounced scri-POPH-i-ly). Some stock certificates that are worthless as securities may have value as collectibles:

  • because of the people who signed them or owned them.
  • because of an interest in history.
  • because of the design or quality of the engraving.

You can find collectors and dealers in such sources as:

  • Goldsheet’s Scripophily Dealers and Organizations on the Goldsheet Obsolete Securities Page. A personal page with citations and links to publications, state and Canadian province corporate records registries, collectors, dealers, and organizations. Some have posted catalogs online.
  • The International Bond and Share Society
  • Your local library for information on the hobby and for price guides
  • eBay, or local antique dealers, especially ones who specialize in old currency, stamps, or coins.


How to

Refer to this step-by-step process to find unclaimed funds:

  1. Visit the Search for Lost Money online service on the New York State Office of the State Comptroller’s website.
  2. Enter your name or the name of the business or organization you’re searching for.
  3. Click Search
  4. If there is a match, the results will show matching names.

Ready? Have with you:

  • Name of the person or organization you are searching for.

Finding Forgotten Accounts

A person moving from one town to another may forget to close a safe deposit box containing stock certificates. If the bank is unable to locate the client, the safe-deposit box is cleaned out and the contents becomes the property of the state through a process called escheatment. Each state has different rules regarding the recoverability of escheated property within specified time limits.

Companies that specialize in researching and recovering forgotten accounts can assist you in your search. All you need is the Social Security number or tax ID of the person who owned the stocks. If the certificates are found, you might be able to have them re-issued by the transfer agent.

Steps the Shareholder Must Follow if a Certificate Is Lost

Each company’s procedures may vary. However, there are some steps that the shareholder must follow. First, the shareholder must describe the loss and any facts surrounding the loss in an affidavit. Second, the shareholder may be required to purchase an indemnity bond. The purpose of the bond is to protect the corporation and the agent in case the lost certificate is somehow redeemed by another party at a later date. (Think of it simply as additional insurance.)

When the necessary information has been provided and the necessary steps are taken, a new certificate will be issued.

Company Histories

These sources report corporate financial events, obsolete securities, or company histories:

  • Capital Changes Reporter
  • Directory of Obsolete Securities
  • Fisher Manuals
  • MERGENT/Moody’s Manuals
  • Smythe Manuals
  • Standard and Poor’s Manual of Railroads

It’s a good idea to check business, city, and phone directories and periodical indexes. Consult both current and previous indexes which cover the time period when the company was active.

If you discover that a company has merged into or been acquired by a company that currently exists, contact the successor company’s investor relations or shareholder services department about redeeming the stock.

Broker Contact

Contact your broker to ensure the stock is not being held in “street name.” You may have turned the certificates over and forgotten about it. Or, you may never have requested or received the certificate in the first place. Brokers normally hold unregistered certificates for their clients, and your broker should have an electronic record of the company name, date of purchase, and the number of shares you purchased.

Request a Stop Transfer

Contact the broker or transfer agent that handled the original registration and request a “stop transfer.” This stops anyone from transferring the certificates to themselves or another party by signing your name to them. Your name is printed on the certificate. If you’re not sure who the transfer agent is, contact the company’s investor relations division. The agent or broker will report the missing certificate to the Securities & Exchange Commission. If you eventually find the certificate, notify the transfer agent or broker to lift the stop transfer.

Federal Government Contacts

How to locate lost shareholdings through the ASIC website

Search for lost shareholdings and unclaimed money through the Australian Government website The ASIC website contains details of how to claim your money. The unclaimed money form will step you through all the information you need to provide to ASIC. The company will be contacted by ASIC once you have submitted your form.

Find unclaimed money

How to find lost/unclaimed Takeover Payments through the ASIC website

If you think you held shares in a company which has been taken over by another company and you have not been paid for those shares, then the monies may be held by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission. You can search for unclaimed monies on the ASIC website. You can also search for money from a specific source:

  • Banking – banks, credit unions and building societies
  • Company – compulsory acquisition of shares resulting from takeovers
  • Life – policies held with life insurance companies and friendly societies

Search for unclaimed money

deListed: lost shares/lost money service

For a small administration fee, deListed can help you trace lost shares, lost dividends, missing takeover consideration payments and demutualisation payouts. Delisted also conduct searches for superannuation funds.

deListed lost shares and money service