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$1 billion stash waiting for Australians to grab

Tony Yoo
·2-min read
Amazed woman looking surprised at her notebook computer screen, while holding a red card.
There is a billion-dollar pile that Australians could claim. (Image: Getty)

There is $1 billion of cash waiting for Australians to claim, according to one corporate regulator.

The Australian Securities and Investments Commission is holding a vast stack of money from bank accounts and life insurance policies that have lost their owners.

"This can happen when people change address or go overseas and forget to update their details with a financial institution or company that holds the money or are unaware there is money to which they have a rightful claim," ASIC states.

Currently bank accounts become "unclaimed" after seven years of no activity.

Life insurance becomes unclaimed seven years after the policy matures and the payout is not claimed.

How to find the money

Fortunately, ASIC has created a search engine on its MoneySmart website to make it straightforward for any Australian wanting to check if they have a claim to the money.

The search is free, so ASIC warns Australians to be wary of third parties offering the same service.

"If a private money search company approaches you to find money for you for a fee, remember that you can search unclaimed money for free on the MoneySmart website."

If you have money that's been lost for many years, the good news is that interest will be paid for the period after 1 July 2013.

"There is no interest payable for the period before [1 July 2013]. No tax is paid on the interest you earn."

The interest varies from year to year, following the consumer price index.

It was as high as 2.93 per cent for the 2015 financial year, while money held during the current financial year will earn 2.19 per cent.

How to claim the money

If a person finds unclaimed money through ASIC's search engine, they need to contact the original bank or financial institution to have it paid out.

If the claim is successful, the financial firm will contact ASIC to have the money released and removed from the search database.

"You will need to check with the bank to find out how long it will take to process your claim," ASIC states.

"Generally, ASIC will take up to 28 days from the time the bank lodges the claim with us then we will release the funds to the bank so they can pay you."

ASIC's unclaimed money database is not the only place for Australians to find lost money. Yahoo Finance has previously reported on lost money registers for Queensland, NSW and Victoria, as well as a national unpaid wages vault.

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