How to know if you own any of the $1.8B in unclaimed bank accounts in Canada

Despite the Bank of Canada’s efforts to get in touch with the money’s rightful owners, the total value and number of inactive accounts has exploded

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OTTAWA — The Bank of Canada and three of the country’s largest provinces are searching for the owners of more than $1.8 billion in unclaimed bank accounts and estates, a balance of which dates back to 1859.

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This record number is growing year after year despite government efforts to get the money to its rightful owners.

On June 30, the Bank of Canada (BoC) said it was sitting on nearly $1.1 billion in “unclaimed balances” contained in 2.5 million accounts that had been dormant for over 10 years.

According to the BoC, an unclaimed balance is “when an account, deposit or negotiable instrument is denominated in Canadian dollars” such as B. A checking account, bank check, or positive credit card balance held by a bank or trust company has been inactive for at least 10 years, possibly because the owner is untraceable.

After a decade, the remainder is transferred to the BoC, which holds the balance for an additional 30 years if the value is less than $1,000, or 100 years if it is worth $1,000 or more. After that, the money is considered forfeited and goes into the state treasury.

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Despite the BoC’s efforts to engage with the money’s rightful owners, such as by launching a searchable online register via a new website to notify Canadians of these unclaimed balances, the total value and number of inactive ones are Accounts exploded in the last decade.

In fact, it has more than doubled since 2010 when it was $433 million.

But the Bank of Canada isn’t the only government agency sitting on a stash of cash in search of its rightful owner.

The governments of Quebec, Alberta, British Columbia, and New Brunswick have also established online registries or tools to help their residents recover forgotten or lost funds or recover money from the estate following the death of a family member.

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The BC government established the Unclaimed Property Society (BCUPS) to manage all unclaimed provincial funds from bank accounts, unpaid wages or outstanding estates. According to spokesman Martin Livingston, the organization is sitting on record sales of $178.3 million, a significant jump from $100 million in 2014.

“For most unclaimed property organizations, the amount of dormant funds transferred by owners exceeds the amount requested each year,” he explained in an email. Last year, the company transferred just over $700,000.

BCUPS encourages anyone who thinks they have unclaimed funds to consult their free online registry to get their money back for free.

“The oldest unclaimed account in the Society’s database dates from 1859. It is an unclaimed estate valued at approximately $200 that was transferred to the Society by the BC Public Guardian and Trustee,” Livingston said .

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The largest unclaimed amount is a $1.9 million estate that the legal heirs “are not aware of,” the society said.

Revenu Quebec sits on the second-biggest pile of unclaimed funds in the country: 401,000 accounts totaling $436.5 million as of August 10.

The majority of these accounts are worth less than $500, but nearly 1,800 are worth over $25,000.

According to Revenu Quebec spokesman Claude-Olivier Fagnant, the oldest unclaimed balance is a 53-year-old estate worth just over $40,000.

He encouraged Quebecers to consult the organization’s online registry to see if they have unclaimed balances they can retrieve for a fee of up to 15 percent of the account’s value, up to a maximum of $5,460.

Last fiscal year, Revenue Quebec distributed $21 million in unclaimed credits or estates to its owners and an additional $31 million to the Quebec government’s debt relief fund, Fonds des Générations.

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In Alberta, the government also set up the Unclaimed Property Registry to find the rightful owners of over 362,000 accounts totaling $135 million, according to an email from an unnamed spokesman for the Alberta Treasury Board and Finance .

About a third of that amount ($44 million) is uncashed checks, $36 million is unclaimed trusts, investments, escrow accounts and securities, and $28.5 million is unclaimed insurance payments. Any unclaimed amount can be found in a free online register.

“As of August 16, there were 25,516 properties valued over $1,000 and 315,469 properties valued under $1,000,” the department said.

“Eligible owners have 10 years to reclaim their property from the register. So, in general, the oldest property on the register would have been about 10 years ago.”

New Brunswick in January became the fourth province to announce an online registry to reunite residents with lost funds. The government said in a statement that the database will be ready in 2023.

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