unclaimed money

Cashing in on unclaimed money

Ever received a letter stating you have unclaimed money somewhere but you'll have to pay a fee to collected it? Here's how to get around it!

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Call it the great unclaimed money rort or perhaps a bit of corporate and personal laziness, whatever it is, there’s $1.2 billion dollars sitting in Australian government and business bank accounts because people simply don’t know it’s theirs.

The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) says this large pool of unclaimed money is lost and relates to shares, bank accounts and life insurance.

This week I realised that $617 of my money was sitting amongst that $1.2 billion figure.

The notice that triggered my awareness didn’t come from ASIC, or the company holding my money, but it was from entitlement retrieval group Search Point, which specialises in claiming this lost money on your behalf and takes a fee for doing so.

In my case that fee was around $150. A bit of a sting if you ask me, but I suppose it pays for them saving you time in hunting around for something that you potentially never knew was there.

The good news is that if you’ve ever received this kind of letter, you don’t have to pay this fee.

All it takes is a bit of internet browsing to find it and it’s really not that difficult.

Here’s what you need to know:

  1. The first website to check is the Australian Securities and Investments Commission
  2. Then find ASIC’s unclaimed money tab
  3. Conduct a search in the relevant box
  4. If it comes up empty but you know you are owed money, or want to check if you are anyway, then search on, and try more agencies by following these links to the Australian Taxation Office, State government or Fair Work Ombudsman
  5. Once, you’ve searched and identified who if anyone is holding your unclaimed money, it’s then time to either contact the company or submit an online claim
  6. Once all that’s done, it’s safe to say that the cheque’s in the mail, but do follow up if you haven’t received it in a timely fashion.

ASIC says that money usually becomes lost when people move house and forget to update their details with a financial institution or company.

Bank accounts become unclaimed after seven years if the account is inactive, that means there are no deposits or withdrawals during this time.

Life insurance policies become unclaimed seven years after the policy matures and is not claimed.

In my case, it had been eight years since I moved house that I was alerted to this lost $617.

The only thing I find more annoying than the attempt to charge me $150 for accessing it, is the fact that energy provider AGL, which owed me the money, has been my electricity provider since 2008.

Yet not once did they connect the dots on my name or phone number in relation to this lost $617. Laziness, I think so.

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