How to check if you have a stake in $1.1b in unclaimed money

Some unclaimed accounts are holding more than a million dollars.

The Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC) is promoting a free search tool intended to reunite owners with $1.1 billion in unclaimed money.

More than a million accounts holding unclaimed funds – ranging from $500 to $1 million – have been transferred to the Commonwealth from dormant bank accounts, life insurance payouts, share dividends and other investments.

Now ASIC is trying to find the owners of the money, shared across more than a million records, says Peter Kell, the deputy chair at ASIC.

"We're keen to reunite people with their money," he says. 

"The unclaimed money managed by ASIC is always claimable by the rightful owner with no time limit on claims."

The federal government body is urging people to use a free search tool on its MoneySmart website to determine if they have any money waiting to be claimed. A full name is needed to conduct a search, which works by locating neglected accounts across different financial institutions.

The money will be returned by ASIC to rightful owners within 28 days of successfully lodging an application with the institution holding the neglected account.

More than a billion dollars has gone unclaimed in Australia, most of which is based in New South Wales ($380m), Victoria ($197m) and Queensland ($112m).

Last year ASIC returned $87 million to 16,000 people, says Kell.

People may find they have unclaimed money in a number of situations, including if they: 

  • moved homes without letting the bank know 
  • did not use a savings or cheque account for seven years
  • stopped making payments on a life insurance policy
  • stopped receiving regular dividends or interest cheques
  • were an executor of a deceased estate.

Money left unclaimed with banks and life insurance providers is turned over to the Commonwealth after seven years; however, the threshold was lowered to three years in 2016.