Heritage Bank detective work saves $5 million in “inactive” accounts

Clever detective work by Queensland-based Heritage Bank has stopped more than $5 million in customer savings from being siphoned off into Federal Government coffers.

The funds were at risk of being shipped off to the Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC) this week because the money had sat in savings accounts that had been left untouched for too long.

Under new Federal Government legislation, banks are now forced to close accounts and transfer the money to ASIC if savings accounts have sat dormant (no deposits or withdrawals) for just three years, instead of the previous seven.

Heritage has had a team of people working to warn customers about the impending transfer into government coffers.

Heritage CEO Mr John Minz said a total of $6 million of customers’ money was originally at risk.

“We’ve left no stone unturned in trying to contact customers to warn them about the new legislation. All they needed to do was make a simple transaction so their account was no longer inactive. This would keep their money in their bank accounts, which is much easier to access,” Mr Minz said.

“Our team made up to 16 phone calls to track down individual account owners whose contact details held by the bank had become outdated.

“In the process we’ve uncovered some great stories of hidden treasure with some forgotten accounts having balances of up to $300,000.”

Mr Minz said the good news for Heritage customers was that of the original $6 million that was earmarked for transfer, all but $800,000 will now stay in customers’ accounts. A significant portion of the remaining $800,000 is money that is tied up in deceased estates.

“We’re really pleased we’ve had so many happy endings,” he said. “One lesson to be learnt is the importance of keeping contact details up to date with your financial institution.”

* Based on a $150,000 loan over 25 years. WARNING: This comparison rate is true only for the examples given and may not include all fees and charges. Different terms, fees or other loan amounts might result in a different comparison rate.