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How to search for lost money

Superannuation  |  14/10/2021  |   5 min read

We’ve all found money behind the couch. Tucked away in a drawer, or in an old jacket.

While some loose change is always appreciated, it’s just the tip of the iceberg.

Australians have around $15 billion in lost and unclaimed money floating around thanks to old and forgotten bank accounts, insurance policies, shares, and super accounts.

The good news is it’s easy to run a search and find out if some of it is yours.
 

Has anyone seen my pot of gold?

How do you lose money? It’s far more common than you may think, and it usually happens when people move house and forget to update their details.

Moving is stressful at the best of times, and amidst all the chaos it’s easy to overlook a call to the bank, your insurer, or other financial institutions. Next thing you know your statements are being ‘returned to sender’ and your account is flagged ‘inactive’.

If a bank account, investment portfolio or insurance policy is inactive for seven years, the balance is transferred to the Australia Consolidated Revenue Fund held by ASIC.

There are also state based agencies that administer unclaimed money from deceased estates, share dividends, salaries and wages, trust money, etc.
 

Don’t forget your super

If you’re looking for lost or unclaimed money, don’t forget super.

According to the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) the Federal Government holds over $13.8 billion in unclaimed or lost super.

A super account can become inactive due to several reasons, but the government looks for three key criteria:

  • There’s been no contribution to the account in 16 months
  • You haven’t interacted with the account or responded to notifications from your fund
  • Your balance is less than $6000

If the above conditions are met the account will be closed and the money will be transferred to the ATO.
 

Claiming your money

It’s easy to search for lost or unclaimed money.

Your first port of call should be the Government’s MoneySmart website. Its unclaimed money tool allows you to conduct a search with just your name. It also includes all the forms you need to get that money back into your account if you find something.

If that initial search doesn't log anything you can continue the search with the following tools:

  • MyGov website – Allows you to conduct a search for lost super via the Australian tax Office. You can also check any Medicare rebates you may have owing here.
     
  • State-based agencies. You can expand your search to deceased estates, lost share dividends, salaries and wages via state-based agencies.
     
  • Fair Work Ombudsman. Unpaid or incorrect wages have received a lot of attention in recent years, with organisations large and small failing to pay their staff correctly. The Fair Work Ombudsman site allows you to conduct a search and see if you’ve been impacted.
     

Your super fund can help

Your super fund can also help. Equip members can conduct a search for lost super and then consolidate it with the press of a button. Simply log in to your account and select 'Find My Super'.

Having all your super in one account may save you money, since you're not doubling up on fees. It also allows you to manage your super from one account, which makes things nice and easy.

Just remember, rolling your money out and closing these accounts will cancel any insurance you may have - you should consider the effects of cancelling insurance cover before making any changes.
 

Get started today

Nobody likes to lose money. The good news is that there are various government supported tools to help you look. 

10 minutes double checking the above links could make your day.

Search for lost super

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This information is provided for general information only. It does not take into account your personal objectives, financial situation or needs and should therefore not be taken as personal advice. You should consider whether it is appropriate for you before acting on it and, if necessary, you should seek professional financial advice. Togethr Trustees Pty Ltd ABN 64 006 964 049, AFSL 246383 ("Togethr") is the trustee of the Equipsuper Superannuation Fund ABN 33 813 823 017 ("Equip" or "The Fund"). Past performance is not a reliable indicator of future performance.

Togethr Financial Planning Pty Ltd (“TFP”) (ABN 84 124 491 078, AFSL 455010), trading as Equip Financial Planning, is licensed to provide financial planning services to retail and wholesale clients. TFP is owned by Togethr Holdings Pty Ltd (ABN 11 604 515 791). You can obtain the TFP Financial Services Guide and/or Privacy Statement by contacting our Helpline on 1800 682 626. This is general information only and does not take into account your personal objectives, financial situation or needs and therefore should not be taken as personal advice.

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