How to search for lost money – that you didn’t know was lost

Font Size:

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?

If you enjoy our content, don’t keep it to yourself. Share our free eNews with your friends and encourage them to sign up.

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.

Join YourLifeChoices today
and get this free eBook!

By joining YourLifeChoices you consent that you have read and agree to our Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy


Greedy children raiding retirement savings during COVID-19 crisis

Financial elder abuse on the rise as children demand bailouts from retired parents.

Pension taper trap hits savings of middle income retirees

Actuaries worry means test will force Australians to spend savings before retirement.

ATO announces crackdown on COVID-19 relief payments

The tax office is zeroing in on fraud schemes taking advantage of stimulus packages.

Written by Janelle Ward


Total Comments: 4
  1. 0

    I really have to ask just how accurate these searches are. I had less than $10 in a bank account that I lost track off nearly 15 years ago. I’d opened it simply thinking to do savings through it because they were offering a good rate – but then completely forgot all about it. With moving homes a number of times, I can’t even remember which bank it was!
    But doing a check here – nothing shows up.

  2. 0

    Pretty useless if you want to check Victoria. I lived in Victoria, at 8 different addresses, before moving interstate 17 years ago. You need to register by each address – which most I wouldn’t have a clue about now.

  3. 0

    I found $64, did not know where it was from until I received it, turns out it was from an old electricity account, which was annoying because I should have been sent the check a long time ago by the company that owed me it, but had to go through all the claim process to get it which was time consuming.



continue reading

Health Insurance

Your health insurance is about to go up. Again.

Do you feel like the cost of your health insurance is always going up? You’re not wrong. Premiums are about...


Private health rebate levels are dropping, what does that mean?

We are all used to private health insurance rebates on 1 April every year, but this year the rebates will...

Health news

Doctors call for convicted child killer Kathleen Folbigg's release

A group of 90 expert scientists and doctors is calling for convicted child killer Kathleen Folbigg to be pardoned in...


Adorable celebrity pets

Just like the rest of us, Hollywood's A-listers are pretty obsessed with their pets, especially when it comes to sharing...

Health news

Who needs a colonoscopy most? Ensuring those at risk head the queue

Professor Jon Emery Mary was 55 when she started having on and off tummy pains, and noticed she needed to...

Health & Ageing

What stress does to your skin, hair and nails

Stress can be an all-consuming beast. Not only does it overwhelm your brain, but it can have a physical impact,...


Multi-generational family living grows, forcing design changes

The trend towards multi-generational living, accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic, is producing fresh approaches to Australian housing. Urban designer Craig...

Seniors Finance

Your retirement 'pay cheque'

Nothing beats the reassurance of knowing there's money coming in each month. Then retirement happens and, suddenly, it's up to...