Leaving money to gain interest in a savings account and not touching it is a great way to grow your wealth – as long as you don’t forget about it completely! You may be surprised to learn there are millions of dollars in lost bank accounts in Australia, so forgetting that a bank account exists or losing track of it is more common than you might expect. Find out how to track down bank accounts with Savvy, as we point you in the right direction to find any lost money belonging to you.
Finding a lost bank account involves searching various state and federal government databases of lost money and claiming that money as the rightful owner. This may sound complicated, but it isn’t. Luckily, the Australian government makes it easy to find bank accounts in your name which may have become lost. Read through the following steps to reclaim all your lost accounts:
Start by searching the Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC) database for lost bank accounts. Just enter your name, the name of a deceased relative or any company or trust to find if there are any records of lost money held in your name. Try different spellings and variations of your name, such as both with and without your middle name, to see if there are any database results.
It’s also worth contacting the public trustee not only in the state in which you opened the bank account, but also the state in which your financial institution is registered. Contact your financial institution to find out which state they are registered in and search for the public trustee’s office in the relevant state. State government trustees hold money from deceased estates, share dividends, salaries and wages, proceeds of the sale of goods and much more unclaimed money.
If there’s a match to your name on either the state or federal government’s database, carefully record the original transaction number (OTN). This is a unique number allocated to the lost bank account and it’ll help your bank and ASIC track down your lost funds.
Ultimately, though, it’s the bank or financial institution which assesses whether you are the rightful owner of the lost funds. Contact the institution and ask for the ‘unclaimed money officer’. You may be asked to provide proof of your identity or that you’re the rightful owner of your relative’s unclaimed bank account.
If the bank is satisfied that you are the rightful owner of the funds, they’ll contact ASIC and request the funds be released to you. Allow at least 28 days from the time ASIC receives the transfer request for the money to arrive in your nominated bank account. Now that you’ve been reunited with your lost funds, make sure you deposit them somewhere you won’t lose them again!
Unclaimed bank account money is administered by ASIC, the Australian Securities and Investment Commission. The money is held in the government’s Consolidated Revenue Fund, but it can be claimed at any time by its rightful owner. It’s not only lost bank accounts that ASIC looks after, though, with a whole host of other types of money held until their rightful owner is found.
Bank accounts are deemed to be lost or inactive if there has been no account activity for a continuous period of seven years. Inactive bank accounts in Australia weren’t always deemed to be lost after seven years, though. Between 2013 and 2015, the inactive period was changed by legislation so an account only had to be inactive for three years before it was deemed to be lost. However, after a strong community backlash, the rules were changed back to seven years from 2016 onwards.
The search database held by ASIC is free to use and there’s no cost involved in finding lost bank accounts in your name. Beware of any unsolicited texts or emails asking for money to search for bank accounts in your name. These texts and emails are often sent by scammers trying to entice people to click on unsafe links to gain access to their financial information. If you’re looking to compare offers for new accounts, you can do so right here with Savvy.
Although they won’t be as high as those of savings accounts, interest on bank accounts can reward your saving with an extra injection of funds.
These will be met with certain conditions, such as only coming with online bank accounts and not allowing for interest to be accrued, but paying little or nothing in fees can make a real difference.
These days, most financial institutions will offer apps or online banking features to their customers, but you should always double check to ensure you’re not missing out.
You might want to go for a bank account which not only holds enough physical locations for you to access but also allows you do utilise them freely.
This will come in handy particularly if you’re commonly travelling overseas, as some institutions will charge you exorbitant fees if you’re completing transactions abroad.
If you’re not sure about maintaining a monthly deposit flow with your bank account, look for one which has a lower minimum requirement.