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SA sitting on $19m in unclaimed bonds

By Juliet Helmke
04 April 2023 | 10 minute read
adelaide riverbank reb

The state’s consumer and business services (CBS) department has started contacting people individually, encouraging them to claim what’s owed.

The body had hoped that simplifying the process for returning bonds to tenants would help clear the accumulation of unclaimed funds. In February last year, the state introduced a new system that allows tenants to check if they are owed money through an online portal. If funds are found, there’s an online application to have the bond returned.

But it appears that progress is still slow in clearing out the backlog, as the consumer watchdog recently reported that $19.2 million has remained in the system. Staff from the agency have now started individually contacting former tenants via text and email if they appear to still have money owing to them. 

The state’s commissioner for consumer affairs, Dini Soulio, explained last year that in most cases, missing information was the reason bonds had failed to be returned.

“For example, people may have provided incorrect banking details or there’s no forwarding address or phone number for CBS to contact them,” Mr Soulio said.

Those who do not receive a text or email should still check the CBS portal, as incomplete contact information could be the reason a rental bond has been lost.

The agency acknowledged that it was treading carefully with this process, as unsolicited texts and emails informing people that they have money to collect are almost always scams. 

In this process, the consumer will be directed to seek out the CBS portal to check for money owed and apply online. The message will not contain any links, nor will it ask for personal or banking information. CBS advised that consumers should never follow links in unsolicited messages. 

It is always safest to verify the source of any message independently, particularly when it purports to deal with financial matters.

Meanwhile, Western Australia’s consumer protection bureau has issued its own appeal to tenants to claim bond money owing to them, announcing they’ve got $4 million in the coffer that’s waiting to be returned. In Western Australiaorganisations and government agencies that are holding funds on behalf of others must transfer them to Treasury if still unclaimed after six years.

The state has a similar online system to search for unclaimed bonds and a simple application to petition for their return.

The average amount owing is $313 per tenant, and the largest amount currently unclaimed is $14,000.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR


Juliet Helmke

Based in Sydney, Juliet Helmke has a broad range of reporting and editorial experience across the areas of business, technology, entertainment and the arts. She was formerly Senior Editor at The New York Observer.

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