Are you owed any money?

Article published 19 June 2023

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Are you owed any money?

The best money to have is money you don't know you have, but you have to find it first. Here's how to go about claiming unclaimed money.

EVER found a bank note in the pocket of a piece of clothing you hadn’t worn for a long time? Even though the five, ten or twenty dollars you find may not mean a great deal to your budget, the joy of unexpectedly finding money must be one of the greatest lifters of human spirits.

Unclaimed money

There is supersized version of finding a bank note in a pocket, and it’s to do with unclaimed money in the bank. There’s a law about it, and this law says that if you don’t use a bank account for seven years, the money in the account becomes unclaimed. The account is closed. Any money goes into the Commonwealth’s consolidated revenue.

Not using a bank account obviously means you are not making any deposits or withdrawals. Any interest that is added over time doesn’t count as a deposit. Any fees taken out by the bank doesn’t count as a withdrawal.

But making even a five cent deposit or withdrawal on your bank account once every six to seven years will prevent your account from becoming unclaimed.

So, who forgets about a bank account and how? Any number of reasons, really. Changing address, moving overseas, forgetting to update their details with the bank. Probably the most common reason is that people haven’t forgotten about the account but think there’s no money in it when there is.

$1.5 billion owed

According to the Australian Securities and Investments Committee (ASIC) there’s around $1.5 billion in lost money to be claimed from bank accounts, shares, investments and life insurance policies.

It’s one of ASIC’s jobs to give back the money to the rightful owner when the rightful owner asks for it. There’s no time limit on this. Don’t touch your money for forty years, you can still claim it back.

ASIC will even pay you interest on the unclaimed money, but only from 2013. That would be in addition to any interest which accrued over the seven years money set in a bank account unclaimed.

Finding unclaimed money is easy. Click here. Two minutes tops is all it takes, says ASIC.

And if there is money that’s yours, ASIC will return it to you … by cheque, despite all the efforts to eradicate cheques.

Other places to search for lost money

Apart from your pockets and ASIC, there are other processes for tracking and claiming lost superannuation, money held by state governments, and unpaid wages on these government websites:

The Australian Taxation Office is responsible for tracking lost superannuation.

Check with Services Australia if your bank account details on file with them are up to date to make sure you’re getting the Medicare benefits you’re entitled to.

The states and territories also offer ways to check if you are owed any money in their jurisdictions:

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