NEWS

Your Money & You

December 2011

Claim your slice of the millions in unclaimed money

Have you ever been too busy to keep track of all your financial paperwork?

If so, you may have money from old bank accounts, insurance policies or shares waiting to be collected. You may even find a small fortune from a deceased relative waiting for you to claim.

There is a simple way to claim your stake in the unclaimed money held by ASIC or other agencies. Go to www.moneysmart.gov.au and search your name. It’s quick, easy and free.

There are amounts of between one dollar and just under a million dollars owed to individuals and businesses. The highest amount currently unclaimed is $990,000 from a Commonwealth Bank account in Western Australia.

Do your friends and family a favour and search using their names too. When searching try your maiden name or any other names you have used in the past, as well as different spellings of your name, in case the bank or company had spelt your name wrongly on their system.

Sometimes companies hold money for their customers, but if they can’t get in contact with them after a period of time, the money becomes unclaimed. Money in bank accounts and life policies becomes unclaimed when there is no activity on the account or policy for a given time.

Australians currently have $636 million in unclaimed money from banks, credit unions, building societies, life insurance companies, friendly societies, company dividends or proceeds of company takeovers. In the past two months ASIC has added $6.8 million worth of new records, and paid out $14.4 million to people and companies who have found their lost money.

There is currently almost $94,000 in unclaimed money from the Defence Force Credit Union, and $84,000 from the Australian Defence Credit Union. If you search for unclaimed money and find you have some money with either of these credit unions, contact the credit union. They will assess if you are the rightful owner of the money and notify ASIC. ASIC will then release the money so the credit union can pay you.

Australian Defence Credit Union Limited: 1300 13 23 28
Defence Force Credit Union Limited: 03 8624 5888

To check if you have any lost superannuation, use the Australian Taxation Office’s SuperSeeker website at www.ato.gov.au/superseeker. There is $13 billion in super waiting to be claimed.

State governments also hold unclaimed money from deceased estates, share dividends, salaries and wages, to name a few. You can find out how to search for that money on www.moneysmart.gov.au.

There are companies that may write to you saying they have found some lost money and asking you to pay them to reunite you with it. Remember, you can use ASIC’s online search at www.moneysmart.gov.au for free.

There is some information that ASIC can’t publish online for privacy reasons, so if you don’t have any luck online, ring ASIC’s Infoline on 1300 300 630 and they will do a more comprehensive search for you.

For more information about unclaimed money, visit ASIC’s consumer website, MoneySmart at www.moneysmart.gov.au or call 1300 300 630.

Greg Medcraft
Chairman
Australian Securities and Investments Commission

What Caused the Global Financial Crisis?

At our recent Symposium (more detail here), Professor Chris Adam from the University of NSW detailed the causes of the GFC.

He pointed out that in the mid-90s the US banking system dramatically increased its real estate mortgage lending in that area and as a result became more vulnerable to shocks from that investment sector.

With this increased lending banks found that they had assets which would be held for long period but were not very liquid. In other words they held a lot of inflexible investments.

The increasing use of computer technology however enabled the banks to create small packages of these mortgages and then sell them for short periods of time – anywhere from 60 days to 1 year.

The packages of mortgages – called mortgage securitisation – meant that a wide range of investors could own some of these mortgages. But who would bear the risk that a borrower would default?. Was it the investor who bought a package of mortgages? Or perhaps the bank with the mortgage? Maybe it would be a combination of both.

In 2005 there was a sudden downturn in US house prices. Under the law, financial houses are required to value their assets based on what they can sell their assets for. Because the houses were worth less then the mortgages were worth a lot less. This meant the value of the package of mortgages were worth a lot less.

This led to a loss of confidence which saw the financial markets freeze up. Central banks throughout the world stepped in and pumped money into the system.

Could all this happen again? Yes, because a similar problem has occurred in the past.

However it will be difficult to get out of the GFC without a recession.

After these sobering thoughts, the Midshipmen and Officer Cadets attending the symposium were invited to ask questions of Prof Adams and his fellow panellists. We’ll look at some of these questions and the responses in our next newsletter.

Happy Christmas and Prosperous New Year

This is our last newsletter for 2011. We’d like to take this opportunity to wish you and your family a safe and peaceful Christmas and New Year.

Christmas can be a very expensive time for families and sadly some people over-extend themselves financially. We’d like to encourage you to plan and budget carefully for this period.

If you haven’t done a family budget then please make this one of your New Year’s resolutions. You can do a budget at our website.

Many thanks to all our readers who have taken the time to provide invaluable feed-back.

Our next email newsletter will appear in early February 2012.