For everyone Finding ‘lost’ money

Federal and state governments are currently holding billions of dollars of ‘lost’ money waiting to be collected by the rightful owner. The amounts range from relatively small sums to more than one million dollars! This money can be in the form of cash, shares, superannuation, benefits from deceased estates, and life insurance policies. More than one million Australians are affected and can retrieve this money easily if it is rightfully theirs.The most common reason that money is unclaimed is a change of address. For example, where a bank account is not active for seven years, and the bank is unable to contact you, the money is transferred to the federal government and held in trust until it is claimed. While the unclaimed money sits in consolidated revenue it does earn interest, but it is still better in your pocket than in the government’s.

Superannuation can be a little more complex. You can investigate yourself or ask your current super fund to track down any other ‘lost’ super you might have. These lost accounts often arise through casual and part-time employment and become inactive and unclaimed.

Don’t assume you are not affected. I tracked down a small life insurance/superannuation policy that my wife had been talked into decades ago. She reasonably thought the policy had lapsed but it had a small super component that kept on earning bonuses. It was worth a few hundred dollars! 

In researching this article, I also found $5 of unclaimed money in my brother’s name. But just below him on the list, a person with the same family name (but a different address) had $4,800 of unclaimed money.

Searching for unclaimed money is easy and well worth the effort. You may not have a windfall waiting for you – but a parent, partner, or child just might.  

If you do find unclaimed money that is yours, you will need to lodge a claim to establish your identity and maybe some basic evidence that you once lived at a particular address. Generally, this is an easy and straightforward exercise.

There is plenty of information on-line about finding unclaimed money and lodging a claim. The best place to start is the federal government’s Moneysmart website, which leads you through the process and provides useful information about state-based websites that can reveal other forms of unclaimed money. 

Look up “find unclaimed money” on Moneysmart; “lost superannuation on the Australian Taxation Office site; and “unclaimed money search” on the Victorian Government. If you have ever worked or lived interstate, other state governments offer similar search facilities.

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