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How to get back ‘unclaimed’ deposits with bank

RBI classifies a deposit as unclaimed when a customer doesn’t make any transaction in the account for 10 years or more (Mint)
RBI classifies a deposit as unclaimed when a customer doesn’t make any transaction in the account for 10 years or more (Mint)

  • After checking the details on the website, you can visit the bank branch with a duly filled claim form, receipts of the deposits and KYC documents to claim the money
  • The unclaimed money will earn interest at rates specified by the RBI and not the rate at which the deposit was made

Unclaimed deposits with banks have been growing every year. By the end of the financial 2019, the total value of unclaimed deposits soared to around 18,380 crore. A year back, the amount was 14,307 crore.

Reserve Bank of India (RBI) classifies a deposit as unclaimed when a customer doesn’t make any transaction in the account for 10 years or more. Unclaimed deposits include such funds in current and savings accounts, fixed deposits, and other deposits (like recurring deposit, pay orders, etc) with banks.

All such money is transferred to RBI’s Depositor Education and Awareness (DEA) Fund every month. In the financial year 2019-20, DEA fund was about 33,114 crore. Last year, it was 25,747 crore, according to the central bank’s annual report.

The money transferred to the fund by various banks is invested in instruments such as government securities by a committee set up by the RBI. The income thus earned is used for paying interest on the deposits as well as using it for investor awareness and education purposes.

Let’s understand how the money lying in deposit ends up in the DEA fund and how you can claim it back.

HOW DEPOSIT STATUS CHANGES

According to the RBI regulations, if a bank account remains inoperative for a period of 10 years, the money can be transferred to DEAF.

An account is considered dormant or inoperative if there has been no transaction (apart from interest credited or maintenance fees charged) for a period of two years. The bank is required to contact the customer via e-mail or phone about this.

If the bank account remains inoperative, the bank is required to transfer the money to the DEAF account by the end of the subsequent month along with the interest accrued.

The unclaimed money will earn interest at rates specified by the RBI and not the rate at which the deposit was made.

HOW TO CLAIM YOUR MONEY

As per the RBI regulations, every bank is required to show the details of unclaimed accounts on the bank’s website. After checking the details on the website, you can visit the bank branch with a duly filled claim form, receipts of the deposits and know your customer (KYC) documents to claim the money.

If the claim is related to an old account (when digital banking was not enabled), you could face difficulties. It’s, therefore, a good idea to visit you home branch.

If you are the legal heir or nominee, you need to approach the bank with the deposit receipts, identity proof and a copy of the death certificate of the account holder. After verifying the genuineness of the claim, the bank will release the payment.

After the bank makes the payment to the customer, it will lodge a claim with the RBI at the end of the month to get a refund from the DEAF account.

After the customer makes the claim, the account can be revived and made operative. In case the legal heir or nominee made the claim, the bank will start the account settlement process, for which there are no charges.

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