Australian Securities & Investments Commission spells out how to get forgotten funds

Millions of dollars from forgotten bank accounts across New England and the Hunter Valley are there just waiting to be claimed, according to the Australian Securities and Investments Commission.

As a big effort at raising money for drought victims gets underway across the region, it turns out that large sums of money forgotten by organisations are just lying there unclaimed.

One teachers’ group is entitled to more than $18,000 which it doesn’t seem to know about.

In the Hunter region, $14 million is waiting to be claimed. In NSW, the figure is $380 million. Across Australia, there’s a billion dollars in lost shares, bank accounts and life insurance.

The money comes from bank accounts which have been forgotten or not used for years. Banks lose track of people when they move.

Across the region, there are countless examples.

In the south, the Hunter Valley Social Sciences Teachers Association is entitled to $18,069.80. In the north, the Tenterfield Bachelors and Spinsters Club is owed $2,767.85. 

Elsewhere, an organisation called Inverell River Care could get back $3,159.12 just by going to the bank, proving who they are and making a claim; Tamworth Amateur Race Club could get $7,983.56; Armidale Arts is entitled to $1,897.87; Walcha Auto Wreckers is entitled to $2,141.10; Glen Innes Volleyball Club could get $1,789.22; NSW Teachers Federation, Guyra Branch has $2,311.55.

The commission says the unclaimed money is “money from lost bank accounts, shares, investments and life insurance policies. This money becomes lost when you move house and forget to update your details with a financial institution or company”.

The ASIC which regulates the finance industry puts unclaimed money into a special fund and the money can then be “claimed at any time by the rightful owner and there is no time limit on claims”.

Interest is paid and it’s not taxed.

It explains that bank accounts become unclaimed “after seven years if the account is inactive (no deposits or withdrawals). Life insurance policies become unclaimed 7 years after the policy matures and is not claimed.”

If you think you have money in some unused bank account, here’s what the agency says you need to do: “Speak to (the bank’s) 'unclaimed money officer' to begin the claims process. They will tell you what proof of claim documents you need to give them (driver's licence, passport, bank statements, passbook) to prove who you are and your right to the money. The proof will vary from case to case and the bank will decide what it requires.”

Go to this website to find out if you have unclaimed money: https://www.moneysmart.gov.au/tools-and-resources/find-unclaimed-money

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