Unclaimed money owed to Canberrans tops $50 million — here’s how to find your share



Updated

November 08, 2018 06:53:48

If you’ve ever called Canberra home there’s a chance you own part of $50 million in unclaimed money sitting in government accounts — and a few simple searches could be all it takes to reunite you with your hard-earned cash.

Key points:

  • More than $50 million owed to ACT residents
  • Money can be from lost bank accounts, investments, unclaimed rental bonds
  • Canberrans can search for their money online

Both the ACT and federal governments take hold of people’s money if it’s considered unclaimed — usually if it’s untouched or uncollected for a number of years.

But that doesn’t mean it’s gone forever. Instead it’s housed in different accounts based on where the money came from.

According to the most recent figures, an estimated $15 million of Canberrans’ money is held by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC), which takes custody of money in lapsed bank accounts, unclaimed life insurance payouts, and uncollected shares and investment income.

If you’ve ever forgotten to collect a rental bond or had a court order money be repaid to you, your cash could be part of $650,000 listed on an ACT Government public register of unclaimed trust monies.

But the largest pool of unclaimed money is held by the ACT Public Trustee and Guardian. Its unclaimed money account grew to $35.8 million last financial year, according to its recent annual report.

The PTG is responsible for collecting unclaimed money from agents, lawyers, and liquidators.

It also covers some money from lapsed bank accounts and dividends, with banks self-identifying whether the money should be paid to the trustee or ASIC.

Over the last financial year the PTG paid out more than $800,000 of unclaimed money, and ACT Public Trustee and Guardian Andrew Taylor said the average payout was $370.

The numbers here don’t include unpaid wages held by the Fair Work Ombudsman, or lost superannuation dealt with by the Australian Taxation Office.

How do I find what’s mine?

When it comes to bank accounts you want to keep active, ASIC advises that even deposits and withdrawals of five cents every seven years will be enough to reset the clock and keep an account active.

It also recommends keeping in touch with banks and companies you invest in to ensure they’re up to date with your current address.

Mr Taylor said it was easy for members of the public to check whether they were the rightful owners of unclaimed money.

“Go online. It’s a simple, easy way to do it,” he said.

“Generally speaking we would refund within several weeks.”

Along with the Public Trustee and Guardian, the ACT Government and ASIC allow members of the public to check online whether unclaimed money belongs to them.

Money hunters chasing down cash

Mr Taylor said a large portion of requests made to the PTG came from organisations set up to reunite people with their money for a fee.

“They’re generally organisations that are able to trawl publicly available databases, and then they would seek to try and locate or identify the person who might be named in a database as having money owed to them,” he said.

“Then they make contact with them and suggest that they can find the money for them for payment of a commission.

“If there is to be a claim made by a money finder organisation it certainly has to be done with the consent of that person.”

There is no sunset clause in the law sending unclaimed money to the Public Trustee, meaning there is no time limit after which the money becomes the ACT Government’s.

Mr Taylor said it was likely a substantial portion of money in the accounts would never be reunited with its rightful owner.

“I expect that it won’t be claimed. Quite a proportion of it may be, but you need to understand the reasons people probably don’t claim is they don’t know about the money,” he said.

“That may be because they’re no longer living, or they’re no longer in Australia, or because they’ve moved interstate.”

Topics:

money-and-monetary-policy,

business-economics-and-finance,

canberra-2600,

act,

australia

First posted

November 08, 2018 06:18:56



Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *