Australia Seizes 360M From Dormant Bank Accounts And All 50 U.S. States Are Doing This Too


by Michael Snyder – Economic Collapse Blog

Do you have a bank account that you don’t actively use or a safe deposit box that you have not checked on for a while?  If so, you might want to see if the government has grabbed your money.  This sounds absolutely crazy, but it is true.  All over the world, governments are shortening the time periods required before they can seize “dormant bank accounts” and “unclaimed property”.

For example, as you will read about below, just last year the government of Australia seized a whopping 360 million dollars from dormant bank accounts.  And this kind of thing is going on all over America as well.  In fact, all 50 states actually pay private contractors to locate bank accounts and unclaimed property that can be seized.

In some states, no effort will be made to contact you when your property is confiscated.  And in most states, the seized property permanently become the property of the state government after a certain waiting period has elapsed.  So please don’t put money or property into a bank somewhere and just let it sit there.  If you do, the government may come along and grab it right out from under your nose.

In this day and age, broke governments all over the globe are searching for “creative ways” to raise revenues.  In Australia for example, the time period required before the federal government could seize a dormant bank account was reduced from seven to three years, and this resulted in an unprecedented windfall for the Australian government over the past 12 months…

The federal government has seized a record $360 million from household bank accounts that have been dormant for just three years, prompting outrage in some quarters amid complaints that pensioners and retirees have lost deposits.

Figures from the Australian Security and Investments Commission (ASIC) show almost $360 million was collected from 80,000 inactive accounts in the year to May under new rules introduced by Labor. The new rules lowered the threshold at which the government is allowed to snatch funds from accounts that remain idle from seven years to three years.

The rule change has delivered the government a massive bonanza with the money collected in the year to May more than the total collected in the past five decades combined.

Most Americans are not going to be too concerned about this because it is happening on the other side of the planet.

But did you know that this is happening all over the U.S. as well?

For instance, the waiting period in the state of California used to be fifteen years.

Now it is just three years.

And when California grabs your money they don’t just sit around waiting for you to come and claim it.  Instead, it gets dumped directly into the general fund and spent.

If you do not believe that California does this, just check out the following information that comes directly from the official website of the California State Controller’s Office

The State acquires unclaimed property through California’s Unclaimed Property Law, which requires “holders” such as corporations, business associations, financial institutions, and insurance companies to annually report and deliver property to the Controller’s Office after there has been no customer contact for three years. Often the owner forgets that the account exists, or moves and does not leave a forwarding address or the forwarding order expires. In some cases, the owner dies and the heirs have no knowledge of the property.

And it is not just bank accounts and safe deposit boxes that are covered by California law.  The reality is that a vast array of different kinds of “unclaimed property” are covered

The most common types of Unclaimed Property are:

Bank accounts and safe deposit box contents

Stocks, mutual funds, bonds, and dividends

Uncashed cashier’s checks or money orders

Certificates of deposit

Matured or terminated insurance policies


Mineral interests and royalty payments, trust funds, and escrow accounts.

And when a state government grabs your property, the consequences can be absolutely devastating.  The following is an excerpt from an ABC news report from a few years ago…

San Francisco resident Carla Ruff’s safe-deposit box was drilled, seized, and turned over to the state of California, marked “owner unknown.”

“I was appalled,” Ruff said. “I felt violated.”

Unknown? Carla’s name was right on documents in the box at the Noe Valley Bank of America location. So was her address — a house about six blocks from the bank. Carla had a checking account at the bank, too — still does — and receives regular statements. Plus, she has receipts showing she’s the kind of person who paid her box rental fee. And yet, she says nobody ever notified her.

They are zealously uncovering accounts that are not unclaimed,” Ruff said.

To make matters worse, Ruff discovered the loss when she went to her box to retrieve important paperwork she needed because her husband was dying. Those papers had been shredded.

And that’s not all. Her great-grandmother’s precious natural pearls and other jewelry had been auctioned off. They were sold for just $1,800, even though they were appraised for $82,500.

And some states are even more aggressive than the state of California in going after bank accounts.

In a recent article, Simon Black noted that the state of Georgia can go after “dormant bank accounts” after just one year of inactivity…

In fact, each of the 50 states has its own regulations pertaining to the seizure of dormant accounts. And the grand prize goes to… the great state of Georgia!

Georgia’s Disposition of Unclaimed Properties Act sets the threshold as low as one year.

In other words, if you have a checking account in Georgia that you haven’t touched in twelve months, the state government is going to grab it.

So much for setting aside money for a rainy day and having the discipline to never touch it.

As economic conditions get even worse, the temptation for governments all over the planet to grab private bank accounts is going to become even greater.

We all remember what happened in Cyprus.  When the global financial Ponzi scheme finally collapses, politicians all over the world are going to be looking for an easy way to raise cash.  And our bank accounts may be one of the first things that they decide to confiscate.

So please don’t keep all of your eggs in one basket, and check on all of your accounts in regular intervals.

In this day and age, it pays to be diligent.


  1. JP in MT says:

    There are many who are surprised at this. I’m not one. I am a firm believer that if you can’t “touch it and get warm and fuzzy with it”, you don’t really own it.

    Three years is now considered “dormant” and “abandoned”. Soon there will be fees to even have an account. I remember as a kid, i had $100 in an account, and the fees ate half of it before I knew that that could even happen.

    With interest rates at historic lows, I don’t keep much money in the bank, and that that is, I keep a very strong eye one. Even checking our charge account balances every DAY!

    Either you control your money or someone else will. And they won’t have your best interests at heart, just theirs.

    • Nebraska Woman says:

      So true, JP. I keep a small amount in savings for a rainy day but make sure I deposit or withdraw to keep it current.
      I do not have a security box. I do not have much to keep in it except my vehicle title…no heirloom jewelry etc.
      The feds would not get much from me.

      • Nebraska Woman,
        You state in part, “do not have a security box” and I not only understand but would like to add a warning to all. My mother passed away just about 3 years ago. Part of settling the account for probate was to empty the safe deposit box at the bank. If we had been aware of the hassle, we would have emptied it before she died. She had end stage heart failure and her death was a certainty; although there was no specific time other than in the next few months, so we could have emptied it at any point in time, since my brother who still lives in the same town was the executor. Since we waited until she passed away, we had to get paperwork from the probate court, file an application with the state, which seemingly took forever (got to love bureaucrats) and then had to be opened in the presence of a bank or state auditor to account for any valuables. The box contained house deeds and a car title, along with some life insurance paperwork and about $10.00 (face value) in silver (pre-64) coins. For this big “haul” it took the better part of a year to get into the box. I haven’t had a bank box in years, and this experience shows me that I shouldn’t have one. A good safe, and some fireproof boxes spread around the house are IMHO a much safer and more private way to store things.
        Although this happened in PA, as I understand it, this is a DHS directive to stop funding of terrorism, the new catch all for any violation of the bill of rights.

    • OldSoldat says:

      Moreover, there is that whole identity theft thing. I had several thousand dollars run up on a Lowe’s and a Home Depot card last year, ironically or coincidently from someone from the Monroe/Charlotte NC area where I was born. I left there circa 1978.

      I’ve been pulling cash and also converting quite a bit to hard assets.

      • OldSoldat says:

        Too, I thought I had cancelled the HD card years ago. I only have used one credit card for years now.

  2. This is not new. Arizona confiscated my bank account when I left and returned a year later. That was in 1974. BTW, they can confiscate your money in banks and have access to your accounts based on a law passed before the Affordable care act was passed to set it up for confiscation to pay the penalties or whatever they want to do. This is why I don’t keep much in my checking and don’t use a savings account or deposit box. I keep important papers in a safe place and not a bank, and like with the fire threat to evacuate, I took them with me.

  3. I checked on one acct a few months ago for this very reason, & they said my phone call was enough to activate the acct. My bro in law lost a retirement acct this way after he moved to a different state. I wouldn’t be surprised to hear of states shortening the time to 2 years in the next few years. & cities may start to do this too, esp cities facing bankruptcy like Detroit went thru.

  4. I treat banks and governments the same – minimize interaction and minimize reliance.

  5. State of Texas runs ad campaign and newspaper inserts twice a year looking for the owners of the abandoned accounts. We’ve got something there in the amount of 300 something dollars, from a prorated insurance policy about 20 years ago. Back in the day when you could run a business as a sole proprietor and we can’t get it because the state wants proof that we actually had that policy. Well, because it’s so old, those particular papers were in a closet in a house that burned down 20 years ago. I always check it regularly for everyone in the family.

  6. Dan Bauler says:

    My Sister has been employed by Wells Fargo/First Union for over ten years. In regards to safe deposit boxes, people often abandon them, loose the keys, or just plain forget they have them, so yes after a period of time the boxes are opened and contents returned to the owners IF they can be found.

    She said that she has never heard of the U.S. government seizing accounts, except for the IRS seizing tax cheat’s money.

    Before 911, cheating spouses often had “hidden” assets as play-around money under a different name. Also drugs/drug profits and stolen items were hidden in safe deposit boxes too.

    If it’s a Drag Cartel or Muslim Terrorist’s loot, hey I’m O.K. with it being seized.

  7. huckleberry lady says:

    I believe, at least in the PNW, that the account must be dormant for 5 years, then it is sent to the state as unclaimed property, after about 100 notices are mailed to the customer. Then the person can contact the state and complete a form to claim the money/unclaimed property.
    Seems to me that someone would have to be pretty unobservant to let there account sit there dormant for 5 years and not give the bank a simple phone call that says, “hey, Yes I still want my account active, thanks.”
    I am not sure how other states, or areas in the country work, but I know in the PNW if people read the disclosures they get at account opening and read the mail that is sent to them, they can avoid their money going to the state.
    As far as the safe deposit boxes, if a person hasn’t paid their bill and it is past due 120 days, they get a certified letter to come pay the box payment, then the bank will have the box drilled, all contents verified and recorded and stored at the bank for 5 years, then it is sent to the state and the person can then contact the state to claim it if they haven’t done so already. Seems to me the person is given plenty of time to claim their property. I for one wouldn’t keep it at the bank, how would you get it after hours, weekends, or if the bank is shut down for one reason or another. Seems to me it would be better to have a fireproof safe at home and not pay the bank to watch over your treasures.

    • so, i was thinkin' says:

      In WA, my husband’s account was seized after 3 years. He did receive 1 letter, that I found unopened and misfiled…always read your mail when you get it! Also received a notice after the fact. He only had around ten dollars in the account, but we could’ve used that for something else.

  8. mom of three says:

    We got rid of our safe deposit box, our bank opened ours up and open up sealed coins from the 1950’s, and just went through everything because they could not find our paper work. What was maddening is my husband had a depoit slip on top of everything with our account number and address, name, I not only felt violated but angry, at them looking at everything. After that day we shut it down letting them know they did have our information and my husband, was at that safe depoit box once, or twice a week! Not once or twice a year. I check our checking & savings once a week, and make sure everything clears so we don’t have a problem like this again. The government, are greedy bastards like dealing with a two year old, not wanting to share but wants us to share everything with them. This article just makes my blood boil.

  9. The banks get their grubby hands on your money first, if you read the disclosures when you open an account now, there are “fees” if you don’t have enough activity in your account. And that, depending on how much you had, can eat away at the account until you are left with nothing.
    Banks started doing this years ago,, every so often you would hear of a family finding a bank passbook from an account opened in the 40’s by old Grandpa. Even with minimal interest it would be a substantial amount the bank would have to make good for.
    Now, with no activity on an account like that it would be gone in no time. Not to mention, banks don’t use pass books any more , so there is nothing to “find” that you would be able to claim the account.
    All Have gone to paper statements, and now they want to make it all electronic! So if the power is out or Internet down for any length of time you have NO PROOF you ever owned anything at that bank!

  10. YoTeach says:

    I have to say, you shouldn’t worry about your state taking your money from a dormant account. The BANK will take it long before the government has a chance. Under Federal regulations accounts inactive for 6 months can be assessed a fee. How much, you ask? I can’t find a limit, but in searching I’ve found several stated $50 a month fees. This is nothing more than legal stealing. I guess whatever’s left at the end of a few years, the state gets to steal.

  11. What this really means is that everyone should check websites like: and at least once per year. I suspect there are also other sites like these. A year or so ago, my BIL found some unclaimed funds from a dorman accout from my FIL who has been dead for 10+ years. The funds were divided between the DW and her 2 brothers (my 2 BILs).

  12. Chuck Findlay says:

    My savings are in the silver in my safe at home and hidden in a few off-property sites.

    I had a friend go through a divorce years ago and his wife was given the family auto and also the court ordered responsibility to make the payments. She stopped paying on it and the bank just emptied his bank account (as in every cent) to get only part of the payment for the cart. It was a shock to him as it was against the law. The bank manager said to take them to court and just try to get the money back. He looked into it and the lawyer, time invested made it clear the bank knew that they were safe.

    I never kept much money in the bank, but from this I learned to stop keeping hardly any of my money in any bank, that was 20-years ago and to this day I don’t have hardly any money in the bank. I keep my account at just enough to keep the account open to cash customer checks and take the money out right away.

    But my friend was pissed off to no end, he still to this day keeps all his money in banks. Some people never learn…

    The 1930s depression taught our grandparents about not trusting governments and banks, but most of us seem to have forgotten that lesson.

    But as many of us suspect, a new lesson is just around the corner.

  13. Happy Camper says:

    This has been going on in Australia for many years. The government has been taking inactive retirement funds since I’ve been working age.
    Several small employer funds I’ve had taken as I didn’t roll them into a current active account. Then one retirement fund my employer opened when I worked for public service (they hadnt used my nominated fund for the first pay I got), was taxed over a period of two years so the $251 opening balance left me with a -$30 closing balance.
    It’s been going on under all our noses forever. If there’s an opening, the tax department have their hand in it.
    The best tax I had to pay at the last house I owned that was on a septic tank, the local council added $80 a year tax levy for having a septic tank, I questioned the new charge and was told it was to upkeep a database that contained the details of properties on septic tank and this required a full time staff member (…really). The 3000 odd homes in the council area on septic would mean a revenue of $240,000 per year to upkeep properties going onto and coming off one database. The local council denied it was revenue raising (…really!)
    We are all being robbed blind at every point and a lot of people don’t even know it.

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