Unclaimed Money – What Is It and How Can You Get it Back?

Australia currently has $1.1 billion in unclaimed money. Could some of this be yours? Unclaimed money is money we lose when we forget the details of our bank accounts, shares, investments, and so on. But how does that even happen? Well, it’s actually a pretty easy thing to do. Maybe you’ve recently moved house and in the chaos of packing you forgot to update your details with your financial institution. It’s these moments of inattention that lead to money being lost and unclaimed.

As a rule of thumb, bank accounts become unclaimed after 7 years of account inactivity. Similarly, life insurance will become unclaimed 7 years after the policy matures. This money will then be sent to ASIC who will transfer it to the Commonwealth of Australia Consolidated Revenue Fund. Fortunately, the rightful owner of this money can claim their funds at any time.

If you think you may have misplaced your money over the years, don’t delay your search! Nifty is here to take you through what you need to know.

Where Does Unclaimed Money Come From?

When a solicitor, company or government department make a payment to an individual and the cheque is not cashed the money is deemed unclaimed. By law businesses are required to turn unclaimed money over to be held in trust accounts by the government.

Unclaimed money can be in the form of:

  • Lost bank accounts
  • Shares/Investments
  • Super
  • Inheritances
  • Payroll cheques
  • Tax returns
  • Refunds
  • Insurance policies
  • Security deposits
  • Unclaimed lotto winnings

Many people are completely unaware that they have money owing to them. If you think you may have money owing to you, there are some quick searches you can do to ensure you know where all your funds are. You can visit the ASIC website to search for unclaimed money. Or, if you think you may have lost super or other monies, then you can do a search with findunclaimedmoney.com.au who are a combined website and can find all forms of lost money.

How Can We Lose Track of Our Money?

Despite what you may think, it isn’t too hard to lose money. Quite often if people move around a lot it is very hard to keep track of finances. Especially if they are renting or are fly-in fly-out workers (FIFO) who are sometimes living in one state and working in another.

Moving overseas is another time when people tend to lose track of their accounts or money that is owed to them. Government and businesses find it hard to track down individuals once they have moved to another country.

Plus, some people just simply forget! Life gets busy, maybe they’ve moved onto a new job, gotten married, and changed their name. Amongst all that it can be difficult to give unclaimed money a second thought.

How To Search For Lost or Unclaimed Money

Head to the ASIC website and conduct a search with your name or OTN (Original Transaction Number). Once you have found your name in the results, you can begin the claims process.

  1. Record your original transaction number (OTN) you will need this to make a claim.
  2. Confirm bank details – you will need to find out which banking institution you need to contact to reclaim your money.
  3. Contact the bank – you will need to speak with the unclaimed money officer to make a claim at your relevant bank. They will usually require you to have sufficient proof that you are the rightful owner of the unclaimed money, this may be in the form of ID eg. Drivers licence or passport.
  4. Once the bank approves your claim they will contact ASIC to release the unclaimed money, this usually takes around 28 days.

Finding Missing Superannuation

Another common avenue of missing or unclaimed money is superannuation. Many people have multiple super funds that they’ve failed to roll over due to job changes over the years.

If you think you might have some lost of unclaimed super that you would like returned you can go to the ATO website. There you can search for lost super and follow the instructions on how to roll your super over into your current fund.

If you are unsure about consolidating your super on your own, there are many companies that could help. Specialists in super rollovers and super funds can be found virtually anywhere online and include most banking institutions.

Alternatively, you could approach your current super fund to do a search for you and roll over any super that they find. Most of them will do it for free, however you should get a written quote or have a conversation with your super fund as to the costs that will be involved if they roll your super over for you.

How To Stop Your Money Becoming Unclaimed

It’s pretty straightforward, but there are essentially two ways you can stop your money from becoming unclaimed:

  • Make a deposit – if you have a bank account that’s been sitting untouched for some time make a small deposit or withdrawal. If you do it at least once every 7 years you’ll be set!
  • Update your details – Whenever you move or change your number, name, or email make sure to notify your financial institution. This goes for any organisations you have financial arrangements with too.

While it may seem simple, you can’t always account for the chaos of life and the forgetfulness it may bring. If you’ve got a big change coming up that could result in lost money, just make a point of setting a reminder. At the end of the day, if you are unsure whether you have lost or unclaimed money out there it’s time your did a search and found out what you are owed. You never know what might be out there and it’ll certainly be worth it in the long run!

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