By Maria Bekiaris,
, October 2009
Other than the odd $2 coin that might go missing under the couch cushion, it’s hard to believe that many people could just “lose” money, but the $564 million of unclaimed money being held by the government is proof otherwise.
Even more surprising is the largest single unclaimed amount is a whopping $992,750.14. You’d think you’d notice if you were down nearly $1 million!
This month’s column will show you how to find out if you’re entitled to a slice of that $564 million.
How does money get lost?
The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) explains that money in bank accounts and life policies becomes unclaimed when there has been no activity over a specified period of time – in most cases seven years.
After this time, the funds are turned over to the federal government, which acts as custodian of the funds until they can be returned to the rightful owner.
Money from company shareholdings can also go missing.
This includes money from company takeovers, or from companies that have been unable to contact shareholders for six years.
Other types of lost money can include unpresented cheques, dividends, refunds and overpayments, interest, trust account funds and rental bonds.
How can I find it?
The best place to start is ASIC’s consumer website www.fido.gov.au, which generally has records of accounts with insurance companies, banks, building societies and credit unions, as well as any company shareholdings.
Click on the “Unclaimed Money” link on the right-hand side. You have the option of doing a general search or an “advanced” search, if you know whether you’re looking for money from a bank account, a life policy or a company holding.
It’s as simple as typing in your name and pressing “enter”. ASIC suggests you try just your surname, surname and first name and surname and initial.
Not all the records are available to be searched on the website, says ASIC. For a more advanced search you can contact ASIC’s Infoline on 1300 300 630 or email email@example.com.
You should also get in touch with your state Office of State Revenue or Public Trustee’s office, as they too have lists of unclaimed money (see box at right for contact details).
How do I make a claim?
What you need to do to get your hands on the money will depend on the type of money you found.
For example, if you found unclaimed money in a bank account and the financial institution is still operating, you’ll need to contact it directly.
You will be asked for proof of your connection with an account, such as a passport, driver’s licence or account statements. The same might apply to money from life policies. ASIC, or the appropriate state office, will be able to give you all the relevant details.
Need to know
There are certain companies out there that contact consumers and offer to reunite them with their money – for a fee or commission. Why pay for something you can do yourself for free and fairly easily?
FREE CASH TIP
Where else to look
Here are the contact details of some of the other agencies that have information on unclaimed money:
- ACT: www.publictrustee.act.gov.au
or 02 6207 9800
- NSW: www.osr.nsw.gov.au
or 1300 366 016
- NT: www.nt.gov.au/ntt
or 1300 305 353
- QLD: www.pt.qld.gov.au
- SA: www.treasury.sa.gov.au
or 08 8226 3106
- TAS: www.treasury.tas.gov.au
or 03 6233 2948
- VIC: www.sro.vic.gov.au or 132 161
- WA: www.money.dtf.wa.gov.au
or 08 9222 9185
Many people lose track of their superannuation accounts. The easiest way to find lost super is to use the ATO’s Super Seeker service – call 132 865 and follow the prompts or visit www.ato.gov.au/super.
To find out how else to make extra cash, see Money’s cover story in October. Out now.
Money Magazine's October 2009 issue is out now. Subscribe now.
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