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How to find forgotten 401(k) from your former employer

New research shows we’re changing jobs every four years. All that job hopping means you could be leaving your old 401(k) accounts from your former employer behind. Need to track yours down?

1. Check to see if you saved old statements you got in the mail. It will have your account number and the plan administrator’s contact information on it.
2. Contact your former employer’s HR department.
3 Check the National Registry of Unclaimed Retirement Benefits. It’s a free database that will search to see if there’s any unpaid retirement money in your name.
4. Check your state’s Department of Labor database.
5. Check the FreeERISA site. This will tell you if your former employer rolled over your 401(k) funds into a default IRA account for you. You have to register for an account, but it’s free.

What should you do once you find it?

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Option 1: Leave the money where it is. It’s certainly the easiest option.
Option 2: You can roll over the money into your new retirement account at your current job. Experts say this is a better option so that you have to only pay attention to one account. Just make sure to check on any fees you might owe to do it.
Option 3: You could roll over the money into an IRA. You have more control over fees and if you job hop often, there’s no limit to how many 401(k) plans you can roll over into a single IRA.
Option 4: You can take the cash value of your account but remember, you’ll have to pay taxes on the withdrawal. You’ll also have a 10% penalty fee if you’re under 59.5. If you live in a high-tax state, you could lose half of your account balance to taxes and penalties.

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