An unclaimed balance can come in many forms: an old savings or chequing account, savings bond, GIC, term deposit, or traveller’s cheque, to name a few.
Where in Canada can you find $245 million dollars just lying around?
Why at the Bank of Canada, of course. And as of December, 2004, the Bank of Canada was serving as the custodian for precisely that – approximately 804,000 unclaimed balances across Canada. Although 88 per cent were under $500, that’s still a considerable chunk of change.
What is an unclaimed balance?
An unclaimed balance can come in many forms: an old savings or chequing account, savings bond, GIC, term deposit, or traveller’s cheque, to name a few. It must be a Canadian dollar deposit, or a negotiated instrument, that is issued or held by a federally regulated bank or trust company.
How do balances become unclaimed?
When there is no owner activity on an account the bank will try to contact the owner at the address they have on record (often these attempts are made at 2 years and 5 years). After 10 years of inactivity they will turn the account over to the government.
The government acts as custodian for unclaimed balanced of $500 or more until they are claimed. Unclaimed balances of under $500 are kept for 20 years (as measured from the last date of owner activity, not from when the government took over as custodian).
Why accounts become lost to their owners is often due either to a move, where the bank can no longer contact its customer and the customer forgets over time, or to death.
How can I check whether I have any?
The Bank of Canada provides a search facility online at http://ucbswww.bank-banque-canada.ca/scripts/search_english.cfm. Just type in your name, and if there is an unclaimed balance being held for you, it will appear in the results.
How do I get my money back?
Once you know you have an unclaimed account, download the claim form available at the website, fill it out, and send it to the bank listed on the form. They will check your signature against the one on file and confirm to the Bank of Canada that you are the rightful owner by forwarding their part of the form to them.
If the branch or institution no longer exists, the process is a bit more complicated. You will have to provide proof that you are the individual in question, either by providing a passbook or statements or proof that you once resided at the residence listed in the bank’s records.
An unclaimed negotiable instrument may be more complicated, so in that case you will have to contact the Bank of Canada for instructions on how to proceed.
It takes 30 to 60 days for a claim to be processed. There is no fee for any of these services, although there may be fees for services such as notarized statements, if any are ultimately required.
Can I make a claim on behalf of anyone else?
If you are heir to an estate, you may be able to claim balances held for the original owner. As the Bank of Canada’s website states, you will need to be prepared to produce the following: