Heritage 'detectives' reunite city charity with lost cash

HERITAGE Bank has done some clever detective work to reunite the Toowoomba branch of charity Drug Arm with more than $11,500 in "lost" funds.

The bank has had several teams working to get in touch with customers who have left accounts untouched for three years before their money was shipped off to the Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC).

Several phone calls later we tracked down the account signatories and it turned out the funds belonged to the charity Drug Arm

Under new legislation, banks are now forced to close accounts and transfer the money to ASIC if they've sat dormant (no deposits or withdrawals) for just three years, instead of the previous seven.

Heritage CEO Mr John Minz said a total of $6 million of customers' money was originally at risk of being sent to ASIC.

"We've left no stone unturned to try and get in contact with customers so they could keep their money in their bank accounts which are much easier to access," Mr Minz said.

"Our team made up to 16 phone calls to track down some account owners whose contact details held by the bank had become outdated.

"In the process we've uncovered some great stories of hidden treasure with some forgotten accounts with balances of up to $300,000."

Heritage Bank CEO John Minz.
Heritage Bank CEO John Minz. Kevin Farmer

Mr Minz said an account called Art with a Heart with a balance of $11,684.86 was discovered.

"Several phone calls later we tracked down the account signatories and it turned out the funds belonged to the charity Drug Arm."

Drug Arm Australasia Executive Director Dr Dennis Young said his organisation was delighted to receive the financial boost.

"The funds will be used to reach out and reduce harms associated with alcohol and other drug use in the community, including the Outreach Services that are provided in the Toowoomba community and surrounds."

Mr Minz said the good news for Heritage customers was that only around $800,000 looked set to be transferred to ASIC, with around $600,000 of that from deceased estates or "got no address" customers.

"We're really pleased we've had so many happy endings," he said. "One lesson to be learnt is the importance of keeping contact details up to date with your financial institution."



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