What is Unclaimed Money?
Recent 2016 figures show a total pool of unclaimed money of approximately $23.9 Billion dollars in Australia. Most people have no idea they have any money owing to them. Recovery and Refund agents connect lost funds to its rightful owners ensuring that individuals are made aware of funds that may be owed to them and assist them in the claim process.
In 2012‐2013 there was $677 million* in unclaimed money sitting with ASIC so this account has increased dramatically over the last few years. It’s important that individuals endeavour to recover these funds or enlist an agent to do it for them.
Where Does Unclaimed Money
- Bank accounts
- Forgotten accounts
- Uncashed cheques
- Tax returns
- Unclaimed dividend payments
- Capital payouts
- Life insurance policies
- Shares and Investments
- Lottery winnings
- Security deposits
- Deceased estates where beneficiaries can’t be found or contacted
How Can Money Be Deemed As ‘Lost’?
Bank accounts become government revenue after seven years if the account is inactive (no deposits or withdrawals). This changed from three years in December 2015.
When a company, solicitor or government department tries to make a payment to you, but the cheque is not cashed, or they are unable to find you, the money may be classified as unclaimed. Businesses are required by law to turn unclaimed funds over to be held in trust accounts by the government until the money is claimed.
The most common form of unclaimed money for individuals is through old or forgotten superannuation accounts. Sometimes if you change workplaces or careers, the new business that you are working for may use a different superannuation company, and unless you take the appropriate measures to transfer your account across, your money could be forgotten and left to sit in an unused account, which if left for too long, will be handed over to the government where they will decide what to do with the funds.
Unclaimed Money Laws in Australia
- Unclaimed money is administered under the relevant Unclaimed Money ACT and administered by the ACT and the state laws relevant to the specific administering authority, as well as relevant banking laws, deceased estate regulations, superannuation legislation, etc. The complexity of the regulations creates the need for consumer assistance & support via our association as well as via the services of professional unclaimed money agents.
- There have recently been changes to the laws regarding unclaimed money in Australia, updated by the Commonwealth Government in December 2012.The new laws state that bank accounts, which are deemed ‘inactive’ (meaning that the customer has not used the account to make any transactions within the last three years), must be reported and transferred to the government, unless the account meets the qualifications for exemption. Up until December 2012, the unclaimed monies regime applied to bank accounts without activity for more than seven years.
- Once the report and transfer is made, the money goes to the Commonwealth of Australia Consolidated Revenue Fund and the information about the account is held by ASIC. There are also changes to lost superannuation accounts, stating that lost super accounts worth less than $2,000 will now be transferred to the tax office after one year, instead of five.
How Do I Find My ‘Lost’ Money?
As the peak body for the Unclaimed Money Industry in Australia, the Unclaimed Money Association is your source for Unclaimed Money Recovery Agents. We recommend conducting a free search through our facility to find a suitably qualified registered agent.
Unclaimed Money Recovery Agents are professionals whose only aim is to assist the general public, as well as industry, in reclaiming funds owing to them. Their role is critical in ensuring that the government meets its commitment to reuniting lost funds to their rightful owners, as outlined under government legislation.
Find out if an agent is registered
Unclaimed Money Association can run a FREE search for you
How Do I Prevent Money
Becoming ‘Lost’ In The Future?
- Money becomes ‘lost’ when you lose contact and connection with the company or organisation holding that money.
- Make it a point to contact banks, government bodies and other organisations that hold your money to ensure that your details are accurate and up‐to‐date. This is especially important if you have an address change, change in marital status or change in employment.
- Keep accurate financial records and record details of your insurance policies, superannuation funds, bank account details (including bank names, addresses and types of account), investment and shares portfolios, rent and utility deposits, and income tax assessments.
- Respond to all requests for confirmations of account balances and stockholder proxies.
- If you have a safety deposit box make sure you record its number, the bank name and address – give an extra key to a trusted person making sure that a second trusted person is aware of the security box’s existence and who the holder of the extra key is.
- Always deposit cheques for dividends, wages and insurance settlements promptly.
- Prepare and file a Will which details the disposal of your assets – remember to update this yearly.
- Remember, money becomes lost due to its rightful owner losing communication with its holder.
*Source: Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC)
Unclaimed Money Recovery Agents, Registered Unclaimed Money Agents