$17 Billion 'Lost' - Is Some Of It Yours?

The Government announced last year that that after 31st May 2013, ‘inactive’ bank accounts would be transferred to ASIC. The threshold for ‘inactive’ has been lowered from seven years to three years. Although this money will be recoverable, the process may take many weeks if not months.

Additionally, the Government announced in its proposed Superannuation Reform package an increase in the threshold for ‘lost’ super from $200 to $2000. Super Funds have to transfer money from accounts to the ATO if they cannot contact the owner, if the account has been inactive and the balance is below $2,000.

The positive outcome for account holders of ‘lost’ super is that many super accounts shunt funds into eligible rollover funds with fees up to 7 percent, unlike a normal large well-run super fund of around 1.5 percent. This move should limit erosion of ‘lost’ funds by fees.

To ensure you don’t lose track of your super or deposit accounts, make sure your institution has your Tax File Number and always let them know when you change address. When changing jobs, give the new employer details of the super fund you want your super guarantee paid into. Or roll your old super account balance into your new job’s super fund.

Each fund has fixed costs, irrespective of your account balance, so consolidating your funds will save fees and charges.

ASIC’s MoneySmart website will let you search for lost bank accounts, shares or life insurance and the ATO’s SuperSeeker service lets you find out if some of the $17billion in unclaimed superannuation belongs to you.