What is unclaimed money?

The Unclaimed Monies Act 1891 (the Act) defines unclaimed money to mean:

"...all principal and interest money, and all dividends, bonuses, profits, and sums of money whatsoever, which prior to the passing of this Act, or which hereafter, shall have been in possession of any company for a period of six years or upwards in respect whereof no claim shall have been made by the owner against the company, and which shall arise out of any dealing had within the said state by any owner or person with the company..."

Section 7A of the Act also states that:

"... any person (not being a company) in possession of any moneys whatsoever which have been in the possession of that person for a period of one year or upwards and of which the owner cannot be found may pay such moneys to the Treasurer of the State..."

An example of a 'person' is a Conveyancer, Land Broker, Land Agent, Solicitor, and Lawyer.

When does your money become unclaimed money?

Your money becomes unclaimed when:

  • the company has exhausted all avenues of finding the owner and the owner has been 'lost' for a period of six years
  • the person (not being a company) has exhausted all avenues of finding the owner and the owner has been 'lost' for a period of 12 months.

The company must advertise their unclaimed monies register in the Government Gazette at the start of the 7th and 8th year of the money being unclaimed.

The Act legislates that in the 9th year any money on the register that has remained unclaimed be forwarded to The Department of Treasury & Finance, where the company or individual has their head office registered in South Australia or carries on business in South Australia.

What type of unclaimed money is collected by the Department of Treasury and Finance?

Department of Treasury and Finance can hold unclaimed:

  • dividends (not company shares)
  • deceased estates
  • liquidation disbursements
  • interest
  • unpresented/void/stale cheques
  • wages/salaries
  • trust accounts
  • refunds
  • unclaimed money from other government departments/agencies prior to 1 February 1998 (after this date each department/agency administers its own unclaimed money register)
  • bank account money prior to 1989
  • insurance policies prior to 1992
  • superannuation from superannuation companies whose head offices are registered in South Australia or in the case of a superannuation provider who is a natural person; the principal place of doing business is in South Australia.

What about unclaimed superannuation?

Unclaimed superannuation previously held by the Department of Treasury and Finance in South Australia was transferred to the ATO in September 2014.

You will need to contact the ATO direct for your enquiry or claim.

For information on how to claim, contact the ATO on 13 10 20 or visit the Australian Taxation Office Lost Members Register

If a member of the public receives a letter from an unclaimed money recovery agent?

The Department of Treasury and Finance takes no responsibility for letters received from an unclaimed moneys agent.  We are unable to advise if a company is a legitimate company.

Agents are only able to obtain information from our database through a Freedom of Information Request (FOI), within guidelines of the Freedom of Information Act 1991.

This information is not necessarily relating to Department of Treasury and Finance in South Australia, so please refer to treasuries in other states and territories.

If an unclaimed money recovery agent would like to register their business with Treasury?

The Department of Treasury and Finance takes no responsibility for letters received from an unclaimed moneys agent.  We are unable to advise if a company is a legitimate company.

Agents are only able to obtain information from our database through a Freedom of Information Request (FOI), within guidelines of the Freedom of Information Act 1991.

This information is not necessarily relating to Department of Treasury and Finance in South Australia, so please refer to treasuries in other states and territories.

Is Department of Treasury and Finance a related department to South Australian Government Gazette?

No, we are independent of the South Australian Government Gazette.

If you have an amount in the recent gazette, please read it carefully as there is a disclosure at the top of each advertisement.

Most advertisements advise that the amounts are still held by the company and not the Treasury.

Companies must hold the money for six years then advertise in the SA Government Gazette for two prior to sending the money to DTF.  Therefore a company must hold unclaimed amounts for eight years and pay Treasury on the ninth year.  Please contact the company directly if this is the case.

Other contacts

Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC)
Telephone: 1300 300 630  
www.moneysmart.gov.au

Australian Taxation Office
Superannuation Lost Members Register
Telephone: 13 10 20  
www.ato.gov.au