Forgotten millions -- dividends the Shareholders Association's Stuart Wilson estimates are owing to around 150,000 investors, who might not realize they even still own the shares.
"When companies de-mutualize and list on the stock exchange, a lot of the clients take up shares or they've found themselves to be accidental shareholders by way of being a client of AMP or Commonwealth Bank and therefore they don't really understand they're entitled to dividends, which have been building up over the years -- that money is waiting sitting in a bank account waiting to be claimed", Stuart said.
AMP listed on the stock exchange 10 years ago and now owes 42,000 shareholders $35 million dollars: Insurance giant IAG owes $25 million dollars to 41,000 shareholders; the Commonwealth Bank is sitting on $42 million unclaimed investor dollars and 38,000 Telstra shareholders are due $45 million -- that's $147 million in these big four companies alone.
Darren Joyce of Victoria's State Revenue Office says after six years, unclaimed money ends up in State Government coffers. This database contains the names of millions of Australians owed hundreds of millions of dollars and claiming it is simple. "All you have to do is click on the unclaimed moneys link, search the unclaimed monies database, go through a very simple couple of pages and then type in your name and see how you go from there", Darren said.
They're owed not only dividends but rents, bonds, salaries super and cheques. Pensioners Peter and Kay Cox were stunned to discover their forgotten 30 year old superfund containing just $500 not only still existed but had snowballed -- to more than $84,000. "I'm still amazed by the size of it", Kay said.
"In the past financial year we found something like 37,000 owners of their money and that totaled something like $12.7 million -- so people are finding it", Darren said.
Try the following websites to claim your missing money:
State Revenue Office (Vic): www.sro.vic.gov.au
Australian Shareholders Assoc: 1300 368 448