Your Money

Reporter: Cassie Silver

The saying "your money is safe with us"... might not be the case. "The government brought in new legislation at the end of last year which means a bank account will be deemed to be untouched or lost account after 3 years" According to Steven Munchenburg from the Australian Bankers Association, the Government will be taking money quicker than ever before from inactive bank accounts. Now after 3 years if you haven't deposited or withdrawn from that account your money could become the Governments. Steven says "customers who are caught out because they've got an account there that's quietly earning interest and that's what the customer wants but it may not be there when they go to access it"

And that's exactly what happened to Queensland couple Adrian and Mary Jane Duffy. "My first reaction was that it's been scammed because I had no other knowledge." 22 thousand dollars in a bank account for an emergency. That emergency was open heart surgery. They're the victims of Government legislation to raid untouched bank account, now they have to wait at least 3 months before they've even see cent. "If somebody takes something from me and doesn't give it to me back and takes it without my knowledge as far as I'm concerned that's stealing." and with the reduced time frame it's now set to affect twice as many people. "The government's claim that it's to help people find lost accounts at the time there was a lot of speculation that it was also to bring forward money into the government's coffers" It's estimated that over 100,000 bank accounts will be stripped and more than 109 million dollars claimed. Steven says it's a good idea in theory. "The program overall has helped a lot of people find lost bank accounts or lost superannuation that they wouldn't otherwise be aware of"

Retirees WA President Nita Sadler is not a happy banker. "If i put my money into a bank account I'm actually saying to the bank take care of my money until I need it and I expect the bank to do just that and not allow anyone to have access to my bank account" Nita says it's seniors who will be hit the hardest. "A lot of them need to penny pinch and make sure they've got money set aside in a bank account to see them through their later years and let's face it why shouldn't they" Steven says "they may be very happy with their money sitting in a savings account earning interest year after year unfortunately those kinds of account will be caught by the governments net"

To secure your savings.

Use the money smart website to track all bank accounts

Monitor your money by internet banking

Set up automatic deposits or transfers so the account remains active

Set and forget savings by taking out a term deposit

Check with your bank special conditions that could make your account inactive

Steven says "if people do find that their account has been closed and moved what they will have to do is approach the government there is a website that the government has that allows you to find if you have any lost money" ASIC estimates there is approximately $330 million in unclaimed bank accounts in Australia but not all are considered inactive. "We don't have any choice about this and any customer that has put money aside in a bank account and has not withdrawn money from that account or made a deposit be affected by this change"