Find any lost money with this easy guide

Got a bit of time on your hands?

Why not do a search to see if you have any ‘missing’ money.

According to the Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC), there’s a whopping $1.5 billion of lost money to be claimed just sitting around in unclaimed bank accounts, share portfolios, investments and insurance policies. And that doesn’t even include lost superannuation or money held by state government bodies.

Of course, it’s not going to be a payoff for everyone but even a quick glance online may net you a few hundred you didn’t know you had. I found $140 for my brother-in-law within seconds of searching.

The money held by ASIC is free to search – remember that if a private company offers a fee to search for you – free to claim and in some cases may have even earned interest. Winning all round.

Read: What the tax office is looking for this year

Unclaimed money is money that cannot be reunited with its owner because they may have moved address, changed their name or forgotten about it. In Australia, it’s only for amounts of $20 or more.

Bank accounts and insurance policies become ‘unclaimed’ if they have not been touched in seven years.

For the key to ‘free’ money held by ASIC, visit the website and start your search.

If you have found lost money at, you will need to approach the relevant institution. They will assess the claim and, if successful, ASIC will release the money to the institution and it will release the money to you.

Read: Bank of mum and dad putting strain on older Australians

You will first have to record your original transaction number (OTN). What’s that, you ask. Well, each record of unclaimed money has its own number. You can find it by clicking on the plus sign next to your name on the unclaimed money notification. A drop-down list will appear, listing the OTN for that particular amount, who owes you the money, and how to claim it.

There are quite a few forms to fill out and you will need to provide proof of identification. These may include your driver’s licence, passport, Centrelink card, Medicare card, birth certificate or debit card. The documents are a statutory declaration and will need to be witnessed. A list of suitable witnesses is provided in the claim.

ASIC estimates it will take 28 days to process any claims from the date it receives a request and longer if the recipient is living overseas.

Read: Seven items your estate plan may have left out

For ‘lost’ super, there are three options to check if you are owed any money. You can visit your myGov account link to the Australian Tax Office (ATO) and click on Manage My Super, you can call the ATO on 13 28 65 – be prepared with your personal details, including the fund you think might be holding any money – or visit the ATO website to download a paper application.

To find any money held by state governments, has links to each state’s sites to search for a deceased estate, dividends and other money.

And how do you stop ‘losing’ your money in the first place? For bank accounts, Moneysmart recommends making a small deposit at least once every seven years and for any other financial products, always update your details if you change your address, your phone number, your email or your name.

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Jan Fisher
Jan Fisher
Accomplished journalist, feature writer and sub-editor with impressive knowledge of the retirement landscape, including retirement income, issues that affect Australians planning and living in retirement, and answering YLC members' Age Pension and Centrelink questions. She has also developed a passion for travel and lifestyle writing and is fast becoming a supermarket savings 'guru'.
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