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Today, while I was preparing my 2021 tax, I was checking my 401k account and shocked that my account is empty. Somebody sold my ETF holding and transferred out on Sep 01 2021. It's Saturday, nobody answers my call, would I be able to get my money back? would this affect my 2021 tax?

I haven't checked that account for quite a while, at least 1 year, I didn't enable Two-Fold Authentication (as my last visit, it's 2FA enable, still not as I'm writing this post). Anyone has username and password and logged in.

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  • I doubt there is much you can do before Schwab's offices open again on Monday. As far as getting your money back, it's not possible to tell at this point.
    – jwh20
    Commented Feb 5, 2022 at 22:50
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    Is that 401k from a former employer?
    – RonJohn
    Commented Feb 6, 2022 at 8:23
  • Can you pull the statements? There is probably some sort of note indicated on the transaction(s).
    – quid
    Commented Feb 6, 2022 at 21:29

2 Answers 2

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Check your old fashioned postal mail, and talk to your former company's benefits department.

Most likely, the company has changed 401(K) providers.

If you haven't kept them notified of address changes (and certainly a 401K provider and a former company might slip through the cracks when you tell people of your change-of-address), that would explain it. This: This is why I use a PMB (Private Mail Box) for my mail.

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  • PMB == Private Mailbox?
    – RonJohn
    Commented Feb 6, 2022 at 8:21
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    @RonJohn Yes. Unlike a Postal Service mailbox, the PMB provider is eager to please, and can tell you if a piece of mail came in, or will bundle and forward your mail for you (and has the billing infrastructure to be able to take your money for that kind of thing). Commented Feb 6, 2022 at 19:19
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In this answer I am assuming that this is for a previous employer.

I would dig into anything on the brokerage website for your account.

  • If your former employer switched 401(k) companies, then there should be evidence of that on the brokerage website.

  • If they sent the funds electronically to other financial institution there should be evidence of that.

  • If they generated a check and mailed it someplace, there should be evidence of that.

I would dig into the website of the former employer. See if you can find a press release or other document hat will mention if they changed brokers. It might even be mentioned on the careers page.

If they did change providers, they should have sent you multiple messages telling you how to do the initial login with the new financial institution.

would this affect my 2021 tax?

Schwab will be generating a tax document saying that these funds were transferred/rolled over/converted. The IRS will be looking for a matching document from another financial institution saying that they accepted these funds. The IRS expects the delta between these numbers will be addressed on your tax form.

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