The Australian Securities and Investments Commission’s database of unclaimed money has risen to a record $677 million this year.
Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasurer, Bernie Ripoll, is encouraging Australians to check if they have unclaimed money by doing a free search on ASIC’s MoneySmart website www.moneysmart.gov.au.
“There is a total of $677 million waiting to be claimed, including a dormant bank account with over $990,000 in Western Australia,” Mr Ripoll said.
“Across Australia, over 1 million people could be sitting on a windfall without even knowing it”
Last year, Australians recovered $56 million using ASIC’s Unclaimed Money Service.
“One of the common reasons why people lose their money is due to a simple change in address.”
ASIC can access unclaimed money from:
· bank, credit union or building society accounts;
· shares; and
· life insurance policies.
You may have unclaimed money if you:
· haven’t made a transaction on your cheque or savings account for over seven years;
· stopped making payments on a life insurance policy;
· moved without leaving a forwarding address;
· have noticed that regular dividend or interest cheques have stopped coming; or
· were the executor of a deceased estate.
“The Gillard Government wants to make sure as many people as possible can benefit from this service.
“To search for unclaimed money go to the MoneySmart website, click on the link to unclaimed money and type in your name. You can even search for family members and friends.
“If you find some money that you think might be yours, you’ll need to prove the money belongs to you or that you are the beneficiary. Information on how to make a claim is also available on the MoneySmart website,” said Mr Ripoll.
The Government announced reforms in the mid-year Budget update that will deliver a better deal for people who have lost bank accounts and life insurance policies, by helping to reunite lost accounts with their owners sooner, and preventing them from being eroded by fees and inflation.
Under the changes, most inactive bank accounts and life insurance policies will be transferred to ASIC after three years of inactivity, rather than seven years.
This will ensure lost bank accounts are better protected from erosions by fees and charges.
For the first time, interest will be paid on unclaimed moneys held by ASIC at the rate of CPI inflation, from 1 July 2013. The interest earned will be tax-free.
Searching ASIC’s unclaimed money database is free of charge and can be accessed at www.moneysmart.gov.au/tools-and-resources/find-unclaimed-money.