ASIC urges Aussies to take their share of $1.1 billion in unclaimed money

When thinking about lost cash the vision of loose change dropped down the back of the couch may spring to mind, so many Aussies may be shocked to hear that as a nation we have a whopping $1.1 billion in unclaimed money from forgotten bank accounts, shares and life insurance just waiting to be collected.

The information released by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) comes as part of a call from the regulator for Aussies to collect their unclaimed funds, which can easily be searched for using ASIC's MoneySmart website.

“There are more than a million records of unclaimed money from dormant bank accounts, life insurance, shares and other investments waiting to be claimed and we're keen to reunite people with their money,” said ASIC’s Deputy Chairman Peter Kell.

“Unclaimed money is transferred to the Commonwealth after it's been unclaimed usually for seven years. The unclaimed money managed by ASIC is always claimable by the rightful owner with no time limit on claims.”

The MoneySmart website allows Australians to hunt for lost funds with a simple search of their name, with results showing individual figures ranging from five cents to thousands of dollars.  

“If you find you have unclaimed money, ASIC's MoneySmart website offers free and impartial financial guidance and online tools to help you use it wisely and make the most of your money,” said Kell.

The information from ASIC showed that over $85 million was paid out in 2016 alone to over 16,000 successful claimants, which works out at an average of $5,437.50 per person.

According to the regulator $617 million of the unclaimed money comes from bank accounts and $451 million from shares, with it often going unclaimed by people who moved overseas, were an executor of a deceased estate, or simply forgot about it.

People from New South Wales have the largest portion of unclaimed money (totalling $380 million), while those from the Northern Territory have just $8 million in unclaimed funds.

ASIC stated that interest (which is tax free) on any unclaimed money is payable from 1 July 2013.

How to claim lost money

  • Head over to the ASIC MoneySmart website and type your name or the original transaction number (if you know it) into the search bar.   
  • If you find an amount next to your name record the transaction number and contact the relevant financial institution to begin the claims process. You will most likely need some form of identification (driver's licence, passport, bank statement etc.) when making a claim.
  • If your claim is successful it may take about 28 days for the funds to be transferred to you.   

What to do after you receive unclaimed money

Now that you’ve received your unclaimed money why not make the most of it by opening a high interest savings account? According to Mozo’s database (at the time of writing) the top special interest rate on offer is 3.05% with either a High Interest Savings Account from RaboDirect or an Online Savings Account from ME.