If you have ever had a bank account, contributed money to a superannuation fund, owned shares in public companies or had a life insurance policy, then you may be interested in this article.
Where do unclaimed monies come from?
Over the years, many of us have forgotten about a bank account or lost count of the various superannuation funds that we have contributed to after changing jobs a number of times. Similarly, for those of us who have small shareholdings, have moved house and forgotten to advise the company of the new address, the twice yearly dividend payments may have been returned to the company. Ultimately, these funds end up in the unclaimed monies register.
After a period of inactivity (such as with bank accounts), or when no contact can be made with the owner of the funds (in the instance of dividends being returned to a company where no contact is able to be made with the shareholder), these unclaimed monies are transferred by the institution to a government controlled entity to hold in the event that the owner will eventually be located.
Between 2012 and 2015, the Federal Government made changes to reduce the timeframe that elapses before banks and other financial institutions have to lodge monies from inactive accounts from seven years to three years. From December 2015 onwards the period of inactivity before accounts are treated as “unclaimed” and transferred to ASIC to administer was increased back to seven years.
How can I search for unclaimed monies?
There are a number of websites where you can search to see if you have any unclaimed monies. All that is required to perform the search is usually your full name, date of birth and sometimes your tax file number. Some of these websites are listed later in this article.
There are also many organisations who search these same registers to locate the owners of assets. People are often contacted by such organisations who claim to have located monies in your name and can retrieve these monies for you if you provide various forms of identification, a link to the address shown on the unclaimed asset and proof of ownership of the assets they have located. If the requested information is provided the money is generally forthcoming, less their “finder’s fee” which is usually a considerable percentage of the amount being claimed. In circumstances like this, it is always important to first verify who you are providing your personal information to. This helps to ensure you are not going to become a victim of identity theft or have your bank accounts fraudulently accessed.
If you need some guidance in this regard we are more than happy to assist, but in the first instance we would encourage anyone who receives such an unsolicited letter in the post to go and have a look through the online registers listed below. Once the monies are located you can usually apply online to claim by printing the claim forms and providing identification linking you to the unclaimed monies/assets. By following this process you can then retain 100% of your “unclaimed” monies instead of giving away a percentage as a “finders fee”.
Websites Where You Can Search for Unclaimed Monies
|https://www.pt.qld.gov.au/other-services/unclaimed-money/search-unclaimed-money/||Searches for unclaimed money in Queensland|
|https://moneysmart.gov.au/how-super-works/find-lost-super||Searches for “lost” superannuation (this is usually done through your MyGov account)|
|https://asic.gov.au/for-consumers/unclaimed-money/||You can search ASIC’s database for money that has been classified as unclaimed from financial institutions and companies. These include banks, credit unions, life insurance policies, money from the compulsory acquisition of shares resulting from takeovers and other sources|
|https://moneysmart.gov.au/find-unclaimed-money/money-held-by-state-governments||This page contains various links to registers for unclaimed monies from deceased estates, dividends and other lost monies in all Australian states|
|https://moneysmart.gov.au/find-unclaimed-money/claim-money-from-life-insurance-policies||This link is to a register of unclaimed life insurance policies|
|https://moneysmart.gov.au/find-unclaimed-money/asic-gazette||This is a link to the list of companies with unclaimed shares|