From 31 May 2013, if you notice your bank account has been closed and the money has disappeared, you may want to check with ASIC to see if they have taken it under new ‘unclaimed money’ laws.
It’s not ASIC’s fault, the blame should firmly be placed with the Federal Government. In December 2012 new laws that govern unclaimed money were amended by the Treasury Legislation Amendment (Unclaimed Money and Other Measures) Act 2012.
The main change is that money is classified as “unclaimed” after only three years; previously seven. This means that if you have a bank account and do not deposit or withdraw funds for three years, then the bank is obligated to send the funds to ASIC, who in turn send it to the Commonwealth of Australia Consolidated Revenue Fund.
The good news is that you can get your money back, no doubt by filling in copious amounts of paperwork. The bad news, other than being massively inconvenienced, is that the interest on the confiscated money is only paid on claims processed after 1 July 2013, and the interest is only calculated from 1 July 2013 onwards. It can also take up to three months to get your funds back.
I have no idea what benefits these changes are expected to bring Australian citizens, however if you do have a bank account which you have previously been happy to leave alone, make sure you make at least a 5 cent deposit or withdrawal every 2 to 3 years. You can read more about these changes here and a story of a Queensland pensioner impacted by this ill thought out and rushed legislation here. There is even concern that lease deposits may be treated as ‘unclaimed money’.
If you are unfortunate enough to have your funds swiped from your bank account, you can search whether it was ASIC by doing a search here.
You may be interested to read about another absurd idea from the government. This time their tax on savings.