Australians could start 2015 with a significant windfall if they claw back more than $1.28 billion floating in unclaimed accounts.
Money left sitting idle in bank accounts, life insurance policies and company dividends is waiting to be claimed by many unaware Australians. New figures released by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission show in November there were more than 1.26 millions unclaimed accounts with an average balance of $892.
More than $625.2 million is resting in bank accounts that have had no deposits or withdrawals in the past three years. For families who have had a member pass away, more than $80.3 million in life insurance policies has been left unclaimed for more than three years after the policy has matured.
About another $422 million is unclaimed company dividends. ASIC’s MoneySmart senior executive leader Miles Larbey urged Australians to do a simple online check on the MoneySmart website to see if they had any money to retrieve.
“It’s worth checking to see if you do have any unclaimed money and put the wheels in motion now — you may get a pleasant surprise in the new year.,’’ he said. “The steps for claiming the money back are easy, the search is free and only takes a few minutes of your time, so we encourage all Australians to log onto moneysmart.gov.au to check.
“The unclaimed money received by ASIC is always claimable by the rightful owner, so there is no time-limit within which a rightful owner must make a claim.’’ ASIC said the largest parcel waiting to be claimed is in NSW with a balance of about $1.9 million.
Consumer finance expert Lisa Montgomery said if unsuspecting Australians were lucky enough to find themselves a windfall it could help them fund this expensive time of year. “Do a search online because you never know what that is going to turn up,’’ she said. “It could help pay those Christmas bills, when February and March comes along and those credit card bills start to roll in wouldn’t it be nice to be able have some money to pay that off.”