Australians could be $636 million richer if they came forward to claim their missing money. That's the size of the pool in unclaimed bank accounts, share dividends, deceased estates, lost life insurance and more, currently awaiting collection by their rightful owners.
The unclaimed sum, lodged on a database administered by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC), is $28 million more than money "lost" in 2010.
"There is more money in the unclaimed money pool than ever before," ASIC spokesperson Delia Rickard said. "The average parcel of money is $652 and there are some huge amounts of money waiting to be claimed."
New South Wales leads the charge with the most unclaimed money, with 440,189 individuals having misplaced a total of $243 million, at the latest count. One sum of $642,000 is waiting to be collected by the so-far unknown beneficiary of someone who lived in the Sydney suburb of Matraville. The money is currently sitting in a dormant bank account.
Second on the list is Victoria, with 190,232 records showing $134 million waiting to be collected. Queenslanders have $71 million in unclaimed money, while West Australians have $49 million.
The largest parcel of unclaimed money is $992,750, languishing in a Commonwealth Bank account belonging to an individual in Perth.
People who suspect they may be the rightful owners of unclaimed money can search for it on ASIC's MoneySmart website.
"Even if you've already searched, you should look again," Rickard said. "It's quick and easy to search for unclaimed money via ASIC's MoneySmart website. You can search for yourself and for family and friends."
You will need to prove the money belongs to you or that you are the beneficiary before ASIC parts with the cash. Information on how to make a claim is also available on the MoneySmart website.
Unclaimed money may have been left behind by people who have stopped making payments on a life insurance policy, moved without leaving a forwarding address, haven't made a transaction on a bank account for over seven years or were the executor of a deceased estate.
Money not claimed remains part of consolidated revenue.