Your guide to claiming unclaimed funds and benefits

In September 2022, the Financial Sector Conduct Authority (FSCA) reported that there were approximately R88.56 billion in undiscovered assets in South Africa’s financial sector. Most of these assets are from retirement funds. Unclaimed retirement benefits make up 53% of the total estimated value of undiscovered assets, while the collective investment scheme and life insurance industry account for 38% of these unclaimed assets.


What are unclaimed funds?  

Unclaimed funds are money that a beneficiary is entitled to but has not collected. They can be held in several different financial products – bank accounts, uncashed cheques, stocks, insurance policies, and more. Funds become unclaimed when the beneficiary does not receive them within 24 months of becoming eligible to do so.


Common sources of funds going unclaimed in South Africa   

  • Retirement plans: Money owed to individuals who were members of retirement plans but haven't received their payment. 

  • Bank deposits: Occasionally, accountholders place money in savings or current accounts and forget about them. If the accounts go unused for a long time, or the accountholders later change their address or pass away, the bank can struggle to locate the account beneficiary.

  • Unclaimed insurance claims: When insurance companies owe you a pay-out, but you don't claim it, the money becomes unclaimed funds. This can happen with various types of policy, including life, health, or vehicle insurance.

  • Investments: If you have investments in collective schemes that invest in assets like stocks or bonds, you may misplace your documents, fail to update your contact details or forget that you made them. These investments become unclaimed funds.

  • Unclaimed securities: At times, individuals own shares in companies or have invested money in bonds but forget to collect their dividends. This can happen when they don’t cash in their earnings or update their contact information.

  • Other sources: Various other assets can become unclaimed property, such as uncashed cheques, dormant bank accounts, or the contents of forgotten safe deposit boxes. These assets may be held by different organisations, including government bodies, employers or retailers.


FSCA has identified several common reasons for unclaimed assets

  • Lack of information updates: Many asset owners don’t keep their contact details and their beneficiaries’ information up to date with financial institutions. They also forget to tell their beneficiaries about the assets and where they are held.

  • Poor record-keeping: Some financial institutions and their intermediaries don’t always keep proper records, making it difficult to get these funds processed.

  • Employer oversight: Employers sometimes don’t provide complete information about their employees to retirement funds. 

  • Changes in intermediaries: When intermediaries and administrators change, it can sometimes lead to confusion and make it harder to keep track of unclaimed assets.


How to search for unclaimed funds online  

Finding out if you have unclaimed funds is simpler than you might think. Simply visit the FSCA website and use the search tool to input basic information like your name, surname, identification number, fund name and employer. If there’s a potential match, they’ll provide you with the contact details of the relevant fund or administrator. You can then contact them directly and follow their usual claims process.


If possible, opt for direct deposit for payments, salaries and benefits

If you’re searching for unclaimed funds on behalf of a deceased person in South Africa, you can contact the Association for Savings and Investment South Africa (ASISA), a non-profit organisation that represents the collective interests of various financial entities in SA. 


Steps to claim your unclaimed funds 

  1. Identify the source: Visit the FSCA website to determine whether you have unclaimed funds, and where they are.

  2. Contact the holder: Contact the organisation that is holding your unclaimed funds. You’ll need to provide proof of your identity and entitlement. This might include details like your name, surname, identification number, fund name, employer name, policy number, account number or certificate number. They may also ask you to complete forms or submit documents to confirm your claim.

  3. Follow the claims process: Each entity will have its own process for handling claims. Depending on the type and amount of your unclaimed funds, there might be a waiting period before your claim is processed and approved. You may also be required to pay certain fees or taxes on your unclaimed funds. Keep track of your claim’s status and follow up with the entity if needed.

  4. Receive funds: Once your claim is approved, you’ll receive your unclaimed funds. Ensure that the payment is accurate and there are no errors or discrepancies.


Tips for preventing unclaimed funds

  1. Keep a well-ordered record of your financial transactions, such as receipts, contracts and account statements. Regularly review these records to ensure nothing slips through the cracks.

  2. Ensure that your contact information, such as your address, phone number, and email, is up to date with all financial institutions and service providers. This ensures that you receive essential notifications.

  3. Be proactive in claiming any benefits, refunds, or payments to which you are entitled. Don’t procrastinate when money is owed to you.

  4. Pay attention to notices and reminders from institutions that hold your funds. Respond promptly to any requests or inquiries regarding your accounts or investments.

  5. If possible, opt for direct deposit for payments, salaries, and benefits. This minimises the chances of physical cheques or payments going unclaimed.

  6. Seek advice from a financial adviser or planner for guidance on managing your finances, investing, and estate planning. Their expertise can help you maximise your financial resources.


If the message says it’s from Nedbank, contact us to check if the message is real. Use the contact information listed on our website

These ‘notifications’ are often not professionally written and may have spelling and grammar errors. They might also come from email addresses that aren’t official. To stay safe, always check the sender’s details. However, some scammers are quite clever and can create convincing letters and well-written emails that could even deceive cautious individuals. 

Scammers often aim to confuse you and create a sense of urgency, pressuring you to provide your information hastily without proper thought. They may use forceful language and an abnormal rush to make you feel compelled to act quickly.

If you receive a message that looks like it might be a phishing scam or spam, be careful. Your first step should be to close the suspicious message right away. Even though spam filters usually catch these kinds of messages, sometimes a few can sneak into your inbox. In those cases, you need to be extra cautious and avoid interacting with the message or its content to keep your online security safe.

To protect yourself, don’t give out personal information without making sure the source is legitimate. Take your time to check if the request is real. If you ever feel rushed or unsure, it’s best to play it safe and contact the company allegedly sending the message through their official channels to make sure the information is genuine before sharing any of your personal details. 

For example, if the message says it’s from Nedbank, contact our customer support to ask whether the message is real. Don’t use the contact details in the message. Instead, visit the official website and use the contact information listed there. Taking this extra precaution significantly reduces the risk of falling for potential scams.