Banks urge unclaimed-accounts reversal

In contrast,Choice supported the three-year threshold, despite reservations about how the policy had been communicated to the public. "You’re better off getting an interest rate paid by the government than having your money eroded by bank fees, but they need to do a much better job of letting people know about it," head of campaigns Matt Levey said.

Banks are urging the government to reverse a Labor decision to take possession of "unclaimed" savings accounts after three years of inactivity, citing a sharp increase in customer complaints since the controversial changes were made.

The change will save banks money by lowering their administration costs. "We estimate that an increase in the period to seven years would have halve the numbers of claims, and reduce the administration, marketing and complaints handling costs for the banking industry and ASIC," it said.

But despite a surge in "unclaimed" funds collected by the government, consumer advocates are divided, with some warning that rolling back the policy could result in more money being eroded by bank fees.

In late 2012 as the former government was trying to deliver a budget surplus, it made changes forcing the Australian Securities and Investments Commission to claim dormant bank accounts after three years of inactivity, down from seven years previously.

Read more here: SMH


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