How to search for lost money

You move houses, you move states, you change jobs, you let your filing system for life get a little out of whack. It’s easy to do. But have you, somewhere along the line, neglected to drain an account or collect some earnings?

The federal government is holding $1.2 billion of other people’s money; NSW has $442 million of our cash, and Queensland is sitting on $159 million. Victoria says only that it has “hundreds of millions”, The Age and Sydney Morning Herald recently reported.

Queensland billionaire Clive Palmer apparently has $418.20 in unclaimed money; the late Richard Pratt is owed $4300.

Free money, lost money, unclaimed money – where do we find it? Surely there must be a little something for us all? I have moved interstate four times and changed jobs at least a dozen times. I must have left something behind somewhere. Where do I find it?

But first, some info from Moneysmart about unclaimed money.

“Unclaimed money is money from lost bank accounts, shares, investments and life insurance policies,” the website states. “This money becomes lost when you move house and forget to update your details with a financial institution or company.

“Unclaimed money received by ASIC (Australian Securities and Investments Commission) is transferred to the Commonwealth of Australia Consolidated Revenue Fund. It is available to be claimed at any time by the rightful owner and there is no time limit on claims.”

Bank accounts become unclaimed after seven years if the account is inactive, i.e. no deposits or withdrawals. Life insurance policies become unclaimed seven years after the policy matures and is not claimed.

Interest is paid on unclaimed money.

If you have searched for unclaimed money and found some, you must lodge a claim. Claim details are below for different types of lost money:

Bank accounts and bank dividends

Life insurance policies

Shares and investments

You can search for other types of unclaimed money on these government websites:

Australian Taxation Office – Search for lost superannuation by registering for the Australian Taxation Office’s online services via myGov.

FEDERAL – Search ‘ASIC unclaimed money’

ACT – ACT Public Trustee and Guardian

NSW – Revenue NSW

Northern Territory – Treasury

Queensland – Public Trustee

South Australian – Department of Treasury and Finance

Tasmania – Department of Treasury and Finance or phone (03) 6166 4188

Victoria – State Revenue Office

WA – Department of Treasury

Fair Work Ombudsman – Search the Fair Work Ombudsman website for unpaid wages.


So, I’ve searched high and low and there was no windfall for me – or my partner. Of course, I had to check.

So how do you stop your money from becoming unclaimed?

Moneysmart advises:

  • Make a deposit. For bank accounts, make a small deposit (even five cents will do) or a small withdrawal at least once every seven years.
  • Update your details. If you move, change your email, change your phone number or change your name, make sure you tell your financial institution, or other organisations with which you have financial arrangements.


And be warned – private money search companies offer to find your money for you, for a price. But you can use these search directions for free. ASIC says it does not ask people to pay for searches.

Happy hunting.

Have you ever come up trumps when searching for lost money? Have you done an extensive search just in case?

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Disclaimer: All content on YourLifeChoices website is of a general nature and has been prepared without taking into account your objectives, financial situation or needs. It has been prepared with due care but no guarantees are provided for the ongoing accuracy or relevance. Before making a decision based on this information, you should consider its appropriateness in regard to your own circumstances. You should seek professional advice from a financial planner, lawyer or tax agent in relation to any aspects that affect your financial and legal circumstances.

Janelle Ward
Janelle Ward
Energetic and skilled editor and writer with expert knowledge of retirement, retirement income, superannuation and retirement planning.
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