Have you ever lost something and just never had the time (or the energy) to go and find it? Well, now’s the time to put in that extra effort and go find it. Or if you’ve been hanging on to someone’s random lost belongings, now is as good a time as any to return them. Why? Because it’s the ‘official’ international Lost and Found Day tomorrow.
Established in 2012 by a group of thinkers and students in the US who want to “help reconnect those who have lost an object with the object they have lost”, the Day is celebrated on the second Friday of December. It was made ‘official’ in 2014 when it was accepted in to Chase’s Calendar of Events, a publication on international holidays and celebrations that has been widely used around the globe since the early ‘50s. It’s all about giving people a dedicated day to recall the stuff they’ve lost and make an effort to find it. People can celebrate on their own by taking a few minutes to chase up something that they’ve misplaced or left somewhere by accident. Other celebration ideas include holding a ‘lost and found’ day at your school or workplace, where people can bring in unidentified belongings they’ve been holding on to, and the owners can claim them.
The founders suggest chasing up glasses you left at a café, even though you’ve got a spare pair at home. Or the coat you left at the movies, or the backpack from school. But here in Australia, we’ve got a problem that’s bigger than lost coats, glasses and backpacks.
Billions left unclaimed
‘Lost’ superannuation is unclaimed super money that’s being held by the super fund (but registered as lost with the ATO). It’s considered lost when the fund hasn’t been able to contact the person, hasn’t received any contributions in the last five years[i]. In a similar vein, there’s unclaimed super.
Since 1 July 2014, when a super account is small and hasn’t had a contribution added to it for 12 months, the money gets transferred to the ATO, which holds it on your behalf. Super gets ‘lost’ surprisingly easily. For example, if a person has had a series of shorter-term jobs, they may not have provided each new employer with a single set of account details, instead going with the employer’s default fund.
It gets worse. In recent years, the rules changed to the effect that management fees and insurance premiums are now charged on all accounts, not just the ones with higher balances. This means that balances which are above the unclaimed super threshold but still relatively low – say, $1,000 – are effectively being charged more than they’re getting in returns. In other words, they’re whittling away to nothing over time.
The ATO estimates that there are around 5.7 million lost super accounts, with a value of over $14 billion.[ii]
It’s a critical problem for individuals, but it’s also a concern for funds that want their members to consolidate.
Help your people find their lost super – starting today
The good news is that it’s relatively easy for a person to check if you’ve got any lost or unclaimed super this Lost and Found Day. Direct them to the ATO’s Superseeker site, where they can fill in their details and get an instant response. It takes less than a minute to do. While they’re at it, they can also search for general unclaimed money (from banks, companies, insurance etc.) on ASIC’s MoneySmart Unclaimed Money. There’s around $1.2 billion of that floating around.
The sooner they claim any money they’ve lost, the better. Remember, when it comes to saving for your retirement, the magic of compounding means the earlier you start, and the more you put in, the more you end up with at the end.
You can help your people add even more to their retirement savings by giving them access to Money101’s units on superannuation. They’re quick, practical, easy-to-understand, and could help your people find (and save) thousands in the future. Explore more here.