Category Archives: Bank of Canada

Lost bank accounts in Canada now top $626 Million

Another year, another alarming increase in Lost Bank accounts for Canadians

I am happy that the Bank of Canada this week, updated their website with the balance of unclaimed or lost bank accounts as at December 2015. Last year, I had to make 5 requests for the updated balance & the related database of individuals with balances owing to them as of December 2014. Only after I involved the CBC who without much hesitation did a program on the problem of Unclaimed financial assets in Canada did the Bank of Canada update the information on their site for the benefit of Canadians. I was thrilled about the CBC program that helped to shine a light on the problem of lost bank accounts and Unclaimed Financial Assets in general.  I was also quite relieved when the Bank finally updated their website in late April last year.

But while I’m happy about the prompt updating of lost bank account information for 2015; I`m disturbed by the increase again this year in the value of lost bank accounts last year.

Another $59 Million in lost bank accounts for 2015, making the overall balance owing to Canadians some $626 Million. 

That’s an increase of 10.2% which is similar to last year when $56 Million was added to the unclaimed bank account balance. Considering the population of Canada is some 36 million; the increase is substantial as it the total balance of $626 Million in lost bank accounts. Claimed amounts are dismal at $10-$11 Million for each of the last 2 years.

Check out the disturbing details of lost bank accounts that I have been obsessively passionately tracking for the past 8 or so years:

Too many lost Bank accounts are being held by the Bank of Canada

Too many lost bank accounts are being held by the Bank of Canada

Unclaimed Property Legislation for Canadians is an important aspect of consumer protection that’s missing for the majority of Canadians and advocacy for such legislation is a lonely battle despite the sheer magnitude of an estimated $6 – $7 Billion in Unclaimed assets in Canada. The Bank of Canada holds approximately $1 Billion between the $626 Million in Unclaimed or lost bank accounts and another $500 Million (+) in Unclaimed Canada Savings Bonds.  However, there’s an estimated $5 – $6 Billion or so in other Unclaimed financial assets that Canadians have misplaced like credit union accounts, trust accounts, insurance claims, pension funds, education funds, prepaid funeral deposits, savings bonds, shares/dividends etc.

It’s time Canada caught up to the US and the majority of other developed nations and provided citizens and taxpayers of Canada consumer protection in the form of Unclaimed Property Legislation. The US has had such legislation in place for more than 50+ years. Unclaimed Property legislation would ensure that all unclaimed financial assets are centrally held, reported on and most importantly, owners would have a better chance of being found.

It`s rather… UnCanadian not to have Unclaimed Property legislation in place for Canadians

No one loses track of their hard-earned financial assets on purpose. It’s generally the result of a tragic event or forgetfulness. It would ease the burden on executors that look for financial assets when an individual passes along. Reuniting legal owners with their financial assets would generate economic action. In cases where owners can not be found, unclaimed financial assets would supplement government treasuries that are cash strapped.  It’s a win/win for Consumers and Government to move forward with legislation. So why is Canada so far behind.

Please take a moment to look for your name or the name of your friends or family members using the updated Bank of Canada Unclaimed Balance data base

Bank of Canada Unclaimed Balance database

 

Unclaimed Credit Union accounts

$6 Billion in Unclaimed funds could spur a lot of economic action

The fact is: Canada is woefully behind when it comes to Unclaimed Financial Asset Legislation

Typically, Economic Action Plans that we are familiar with consist of infrastructure spending including roads and buildings costing millions in taxpayer money. But what about a different kind of economic action plan that would cost millions less but generate more than a billion of economic action?  This under the radar, economic action plan in waiting is about ensuring that each Province and Territory across Canada put into place comprehensive & consistent Unclaimed Intangible Property Legislation.

UP in EAP

Unclaimed funds could spur a lot of economic action

Connecting or reuniting Canadians with the hard-earned/unclaimed (often tax paid) financial assets that they are legally entitled to is the goal of Unclaimed Property Legislation. And yet, the majority of Canada (outside Alberta and Quebec) is way behind in putting such legislation in place which also makes it difficult to pinpoint the actual value of Unclaimed Financial assets currently in Canada. However, experts estimate the total value to be between $6-$7 Billion. That’s a lot of cash that too many governments across Canada (outside of Alberta & Quebec) are failing to gather up, safeguard and share information on for the benefit of Canadians. That’s way too much cash that too many governments across Canada are failing to capitalize on for their own budgets as they do in other countries like the US. In most US states, unclaimed financial assets are now a major help to state budgets. California is estimated to use some $400M annually for their state budget from unclaimed property that’s still available to legal owners should they be found.

The Bank of Canada alone has on deposit approximately  $1 Billion in the form ofUnclaimed Canadian $ Bank accounts (from federally chartered bank accounts only) and Unclaimed/Matured Canada Savings Bonds. Unfortunately, no one is looking for legal owners despite the fact that information would be readily available from government records.

Canada Savings bond

Canadians are owed more than $400M in Unclaimed CSB’s

Check out a Fast Fact sheet on Unclaimed Financial Assets for some of the alarming facts on amounts owed to hard working Canadians.

Let’s face it.

Nobody sets out to lose their financial assets on purpose & people generally work hard for their money. However, as we know far too well, people can become incapacitated or die quite suddenly or forget or move or not have the financial literacy skills required to ensure that their money is properly safeguarded for their own use or for their heirs down the road. That’s why most of the Western World like the US considers Unclaimed Property Legislation to be an important part of Consumer Protection Legislation. The US has had such legislation in place for more than 50 years & currently holds approximately $58 Billion in unclaimed assets. Yes. $58 Billion. The difference is that a lot of this $58 Billion in the United States can be found on individual State websites. State Treasuries proactively look for the legal owners of those funds while utilizing those funds to supplement state finances. Given that the problem of Financial assets is growing at an alarming rate, Canada is way overdue in ensuring that Unclaimed Property legislation is in place across the Country.  All Provinces and Territories need to get on board.

Unclaimed financial assets come in various forms:

  • Bank accounts/Credit Union accounts
  • Over payments made to businesses or deposits such as Utilities
  • Stocks, mutual funds, bonds, and dividends
  • Funds reserved (undeposited) certified cheques, drafts or money orders
  • GICs or Certificates of deposit
  • Pensions
  • Insurance policy proceeds, Insurance refunds and amounts payable resulting from Demutualizations of mutual insurance companies
  • Education Savings plans
  • Prepaid Funeral deposits
  • Tax refunds
  • Mineral interests and royalty payments, trust funds, and escrow accounts
  • Contents of Safety Deposit Boxes-which may include valuables and sentimental items
  • Uncashed payroll cheques
  • Unused Gift Card balances

It seems reasonable that ALL  Canadians deserve to have their financial assets safeguarded by Unclaimed Property Legislation. We think reuniting Canadians (or their heirs) with their own money is the right (and Canadian) thing to do. It’s good for everyone including the economy to get this money back to rightful owners and back into circulation.

If you believe more Canadian jurisdictions should put consumer protection in place by way of Unclaimed Property legislation, please pass this post along and speak with both your MPP and your MP about the issue. As always, feel free to contact us for more information. As one of the few advocates for Unclaimed Property legislation in Canada we would be pleased to offer more information and to receive your help in shining a light on this issue.

Given the alarming value of Unclaimed financial assets in the US ($58Billion+) despite the existence of  Unclaimed Property legislation, we know that legislation is only part of the solution to reducing the risk of assets becoming lost or unclaimed. That’s why we’ve built a simple, secure solution that helps individuals and families better organize their important information in order to:

  • Engage more proactively in financial/estate planning
  • Enhance their level of emergency preparedness and
  • Help reduce the risk of hard-earned financial assets from being lost or forgotten

Get in touch with us anytime to learn more about the need for Unclaimed property legislation or LegacyTracker.

Canada’s own sunken treasure

A ship missing for 310 years was found off the coast of Colombia in the Gulf of Mexico  this past week carrying gold and jewels worth $17 US billion. It’s been called the “Holy Grail” of sunken treasures.

That’s all really exciting but the recovery will be difficult and already a bitter battle has arisen over what may be the world’s largest sunken treasure between Columbia, Spain and a US salvage company. The Columbian government is currently treating the wreck as a state secret to avoid further plundering.

While it’s hardly a State secret, sunken treasure in Canada does exist in the form of unclaimed property or unclaimed financial assets owned by hard-working Canadians. Yet, it’s barely easier to find and doesn’t get barely the attention it deserves.

There’s a Billion dollars in unclaimed property in the Bank of Canada between lost bank accounts and matured/unclaimed Canada Savings Bonds and no one is looking for the legal owners of that treasure despite the information naturally at the disposal of such a worthy crown corporation as the Bank of Canada.  While there’s a listing that is updated annually on the Bank of Canada website for unclaimed bank accounts, take note that those bank accounts are only accounts that have had no activity for 10 years and don’t include accounts in foreign currency.

More unfortunately, very sadly and for some unknown reason, no listing of owners exists for the $500+ Million in Unclaimed Canada Savings bonds.  Whereas the same can not be said for unclaimed bank accounts, Canada Savings Bonds can only be registered by individuals living in Canada so the entirety of this sunken treasure belongs to Canadian individuals and families.  It certainly seems “UnCanadian” for the Bank of Canada to 1) not look for those individuals considering that they have their SIN numbers at hand 2) allow Canadians to more easily find their hard-earned savings bonds.

There’s a multitude of other forms of unclaimed financial assets in Canada that make up sunken treasure in Canada. The estimated total of unclaimed financial assets in Canada total $6 Billion plus. That treasure is more difficult to find outside of the provinces of Alberta and Quebec where unclaimed property legislation actually exists (BC has voluntary unclaimed property legislation).

Generally, Canada is woefully behind in ensuring that consumer protection in the form of Unclaimed Property Legislation exists for all Canadians. The US and other countries around the world have had such legislation in place for 50+ years You can find a partial list of some of the other sunken treasure in Canada on our website as well as some of the places you can search http://legacytracker.com/facts/unclaimed-in-canada/

 Good Luck

64 Billion reasons to get your ducks in a row

Are your ducks in a row?

We think $58 Billion in unclaimed or misplaced financial assets in the US + $4-$6 Billion in Canada are pretty good reasons to get financially organized. These financial assets were no doubt hard-earned. A good majority of these assets may also be tax paid. $64 Billion or so waiting to be claimed by the individual that lost track or the legal beneficiaries of those assets; It’s a lot of money that could make a really BIG difference to many families and loved ones.

Unclaimed financial assets come in a variety of forms:

  • Bank or Credit Union accounts
  • Stocks/Bonds
  • Uncashed dividends
  • Utility deposits or refunds
  • Other prepaids, deposits or refunds
  • Trust distributions
  • Inheritances
  • Annuities/Pensions
  • Education funds
  • Prepaid funeral contracts
  • Mineral royalties such as oil, gas, or mining
  • Insurance policy claims/refunds
  • Contents of abandoned safe-deposit boxes

Unclaimed financial assets reside in a variety of places:

  • Banks, Credit Unions and Trust Companies
  • Insurance Companies
  • Share Transfer Agents
  • Pension Funds
  • Trust monies held by lawyers or real estate companies
  • Utilities
  • Funeral Homes
  • Investment management companies
  • Retailers (Gift Cards/Credits)
  • Government treasuries or agencies

While held initially by a variety of ‘holder’ organizations or institutions, unclaimed assets residing in the US or 3 of the Provinces in Canada with Unclaimed Property legislation in place will, after a set period of time, be forwarded to the State/Provincial or Federal treasury. Those assets will be safeguarded and reported into an online search base where hopefully the legal owners or heirs will find those assets and make a claim. Many US jurisdictions are very proactive about looking for owners.For example, many State treasury departments will engage in outreach activities at baseball games, summer fairs and shopping malls with the specific purpose being to find unclaimed money for visitors. It is common place in most US states to publish the entire database in the local paper, once or twice a year.

The US estimates that 1 in 10 Americans has unclaimed funds belonging to them

The US knows a lot about Unclaimed or lost financial assets because they have kept really good records over the 50+ years or so that they have had such legislation in place.The same can not be said for Canada despite how socially progressive Canada might be in many other areas.

Only 2 provinces in Canada (Alberta and Quebec) have comprehensive unclaimed property legislation in place and provide searchable databases. BC has a voluntary, less comprehensive system in place

The Bank of Canada has over $1 Billion in Unclaimed Money

The Bank of Canada on its own has over $1 Billion in Unclaimed financial assets in the form of Unclaimed bank accounts and Unclaimed/Matured Canada Savings Bonds. While there is a searchable database available online for unclaimed bank accounts which total over $532 Million, there is no such database for Unclaimed but matured Canada Savings Bonds which total over $500 Million. No one from the Bank of Canada s looking for those legal owners. We know because we asked.

Bank of CanadaThe amount of unclaimed financial assets is a staggering amount and so too is the rate of increase of financial assets becoming lost or unclaimed. The Unclaimed Bank account balance with the Bank of Canada increased by a net amount of $36 Million in 2013 or 7.3% making for a 5 year (net) increase of $181 Million. The value of unclaimed but matured Canada Savings Bonds increased $105 Million in the year ending April 2013.

 

Please get your ducks in a row

These alarming increases in unclaimed financial assets in combination with in Canada, a lack of comprehensive unclaimed property legislation for a majority of hard-working Canadians and their families should be sufficient evidence of the need to safeguard and protect information relating to financial assets appropriately. No one will safeguard your information as well as You can.

Helping with that challenge, is one of the core missions behind LegacyTracker.

 

Spur some economic action

Unclaimed funds could spur economic action

A Billion dollars in Unclaimed Funds would make for a nice Economic Action Plan in Canada

Let’s not promote youth working for free…Let’s put the $1 Billion in Unclaimed financial assets that the Bank of Canada is sitting on to work to spur economic action

While it’s great that Governor Poloz recognizes the problem of youth unemployment it’s concerning that the best idea that he seems to have for the estimated 200,000 jobless or under-employed youth is to advise them to work for free. I’m the first to support the value in volunteering but he has gone further than that & supported unpaid internships…so I must disagree.

It seems an insensitive and unsympathetic solution to the problem of thousands of youth many with undergraduate and/or advanced degrees to take unpaid internships. He seems to suggest that it’s ok to subvert “minimum-wage” laws and most specifically to ignore the fact that unless those unpaid internships are part of a college or university program, such positions are actually illegal in certain jurisdictions in Canada like Ontario where he lives and works

Unpaid internships unrelated to academic study devalue the skills and abilities of youth. There’s a more obvious problem as well. How many jobless youth can afford to “donate” their efforts without pay especially those without the advantage of parents who can carry them or those youth who have high student debt loads ?

Unpaid internships may work for the privileged few but let’s be honest…many of those internships are exploitive. They are too often used by employers taking advantage of a tight job market with little or no training in return for free labour and a bump to their bottom line

Unpaid internships are not the answer Governor Poloz is are seeking. But here are some suggestions :

*Gather real input about the kinds of well-trained, younger workers Canada needs to grow our economy.
*Support youth entrepreneurship which should start in high school and include financial literacy education
*It’s 2014. Put technology to work to do a better job of matching required skills and jobs in the short and long term future against current education & training programs. Most successful businesses have 3-10 year plans. Please ask them about those plans. Isn’t Stats Canada in-taking a lot of this information already? If we did a better job of this and if educators were required to listen, perhaps we would not have for example a 7 year waiting list of fresh, young, highly skilled teachers looking for part time or full time positions while at the same time, growing this waiting list each year.
*Unleash the $1 Billion in unclaimed financial assets currently being held by the Bank of Canada in the form of unclaimed bank accounts and savings bonds and spur some real economic action. It’s Canada’s “under the radar, Economic Action Plan in Waiting” that no one talks about
*At the very least hire an unemployed youth or 2 (as I suggested to you earlier this year) to build a searchable database so Canadians can locate $420 Million in unclaimed Canada Savings Bonds that lie buried in the Bank of Canada and promote the searchable database that includes $532 Million in unclaimed bank accounts that does exist.

Let’s not promote youth working for free…Let’s put $1 Billion in Unclaimed financial assets that the Bank of Canada is sitting on to work.

Unclaimed Credit Union Balances

Finding Unclaimed Credit Union Balances – no easy task

We’ve made no secret of the fact that we love Credit Unions but…

Why is finding an unclaimed Credit Union balance in Canada so …complicated to say the least ?

There`s over $532 million in unclaimed bank accounts held by the Bank of Canada. This balance is made up of Canadian dollar accounts held originally by a federally regulated bank where the account was inactive for a period of 10 or more years. The Bank of Canada makes available a searchable database of unclaimed bank accounts which anyone can search here 

Although we remain disappointed about the fact that the Bank of Canada`s searchable database does not include inactive accounts held in a foreign currency (since they are very familiar with exchange rates), the process and the rules seem simple enough.

If only Canada had such clarity in the case of unclaimed accounts held by Credit Unions or Financial Cooperatives !

Alas, Credit Unions and Financial Cooperatives are provincially regulated and unfortunately, each Province has their own rules (or doesn’t). More unfortunately, only 3 provinces currently make available a searchable database available to the public (Quebec, British Columbia and Nova Scotia)

Here`s a short rundown on what we know about Unclaimed Balances held by Credit Unions in some (apologies-not all) Provinces across the Country:

Alberta: After 10 years of inactivity, unclaimed account balances are transferred to the Credit Union Deposit Guarantee Corporation (CUDGC) which holds the money for another 20 years before it is considered revenue for Alberta. As of 2013, the CUDGC held some $1.36 Million in unclaimed accounts.

British Columbia: After 10 years of inactivity, unclaimed account balances over $100 are transferred to the BC Unclaimed Property Society which holds the account indefinitely. A searchable database is available here 

Nova Scotia: After 7 years of inactivity, unclaimed accounts are transferred to the Nova Scotia Credit Union Deposit Insurance Corporation (CUDIC).  The CUDIC holds the balance in perpetuity. As of 2013, the Nova Scotia Credit Union reported $577 Thousand in unclaimed accounts. A searchable database is available here 

Quebec: After 3 years of inactivity, unclaimed accounts are transferred to Revenu Quebec where the balances are held for 30 more years for amounts over $500 or 10 years if the amount is less than $500. A searchable database is available here 

Saskatchewan: After 6 years of inactivity, unclaimed accounts worth more than $5,000 are transferred to the provincial Credit Union Deposit Guarantee Corp. The balance of unclaimed accounts in 2013 was $244 Thousand. A searchable database is expected to be available soon

Ontario: Section 182 of the Credit Union and Caisses Populaires Act in Ontario notes that accounts that have been inactive for a period of 10 years are to be forwarded to the Ministry of Finance in accordance with the Minister`s directions. Unfortunately, those directions have still not been provided despite the fact that the Act became law in 1994. The Financial Services Commission of Ontario which administers the regulations pertaining to Credit Unions and Caisses Populaires in Ontario, can not provide us with any detail as to why there has been a delay of 20 years by the Ministry of Finance in providing `directions`. Yikes.

That’s more than unfortunate for account holders or heirs in Canada`s most populous Province who should be able search & claim accounts that they are legally entitled to in one central place.

We are left to wonder why Minister of Finance in Ontario seems so indifferent about this matter given the state of finances in Ontario and the fact that this would be a welcome help to families who have for one reason or another lost track of an account

This ‘Mish Mash’ of rules and procedures depending upon your jurisdiction, is a Good Reason to safeguard your financial assets & all of your financial and legal information in a secure and accessible location. We have one for you –  LegacyTracker.

$400M+ in Lost Canada Savings Bonds is a lot of cash

There’s a staggering $400 Million + in matured but Unredeemed Canada Savings Bonds.

AND..

$400 Million in Lost or Unclaimed Canada Savings Bonds is a lot of hard-earned cash that could make a difference to many. 

And while it seems, a little UnCanadian, no one is looking for you or for your family member that may own one of these bonds. No one. That’s why it’s worth checking for yourself or for the sake of a loved one or friend.

If you think you or a family member has lost a Canada Savings bond (CSB) along the way…here’s some helpful info. if you are not sure if you or a family member has lost a CSB, I would urge you to call anyways as there is no downside, because NO ONE in the Bank of Canada is looking for owners of these Lost bonds. I can’t determine why lost Canada Savings Bonds are not listed on the Bank of Canada website alongside lost bank accounts. It’s a really BIG mystery.

However, given that T5s have been issued for the interest that these bonds have earned (which also remains unclaimed) AND the fact that tax returns have been filed by the legal owners or returns have been re-assessed on behalf of these owners, it should follow, that many of these owners could be tracked down. However, that’s not the case (the looking). We’ve volunteered to list lost CSB’s here on this website; we await a response

In any case, here’s some info on searching for lost Canada Savings Bonds

  • Gather up any info you have like Certificate Serial #, Customer ID, address at the time of purchase and the exact name that the bond would have been issued on behalf of
  • If the bond has been stolen; you should report it to police. CSB customer service will ask you for a Police report #
  • If the bond holder/owner is under 18, the parent or legal guardian must contact customer service. You may be requested to provide proof that you are the parent or legal guardian
  • If you are calling on behalf of someone unable to make the call; have them present if possible.
  • If you are calling on behalf of an estate or an individual that has been incapacitated, you will be asked to provide a certified or notarized true copy of any document that is required to provide proof of your authorization to act on their behalf (Like a Will or Power of Attorney or an Estate Transfer form)
  • If there are 2 owners listed on the bond; both bond holders must speak with Customer service
  • Make the Call-Contact info provided below

Need more info? Read more here

Contact Info

Phone – 1 800 575 5151
Monday to Friday 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. (ET)
905 754-2012 (Outside North America)
Facsimile  613 782-8096

Email
For general inquiries only (Link for instructions)
csb@csb.gc.ca

Mail
Canada Savings Bonds
P.O. Box 2770, Station D
Ottawa, ON K1P 1J7

Delivery Address
Canada Savings Bonds
50 O’Connor Street, Suite 201
Ottawa, ON K1P 6L2

UNCLAIMED ACCOUNTS BANK OF CANADA

What’s not included in $532M in Unclaimed Accounts at the Bank of Canada

$532 Million in Unclaimed accounts held by the Bank of Canada is a very BIG balance

It’s a very BIG balance & yet it doesn’t include a lot of other financial assets that you might think are included like:

  • Bank balances from Non-Federally regulated financial institutions like Credit Unions
  • Bank balances not held in Canadian Currency like accounts held in USD (strange?)
  • Bank balances that have had no activity for 1-9 years or more (must be 10+ years)
  • Safety deposit boxes (We’re still trying to find out what happens to unclaimed safety deposit boxes)
  • Gold/Silver Certificates
  • RRSP accounts or Retirement savings accounts
  • Prepaid funeral contracts
  • Stock, Dividends, Securities or Life insurance polices/claims
  • Unclaimed amounts held by other institutions or organizations like prepaid funeral contracts or utility deposits

Wouldn’t it be nice to look in 1-2 places like residents of the US are able to do? That’s one of the many benefits of having Unclaimed property legislation in place.

 

 

 

Canada needs Unclaimed Property Legislation

Shining some Light on our very Canadian Problem

Grateful thanks to Ross Martowits of Canadian Press for Shining some much-needed light on our very Canadian Problem or as I refer to it…Canada’s Economic Plan in waiting. Ross took the time to speak with us this week and his article ran today in many papers across the Country today.

I refer to the need for Unclaimed Property Legislation in Canada as a very Canadian problem because in most parts of the developed world such legislation exists and it has for many years like in the US, most of the UK, Australia, New Zealand, etc. Kenya has legislation…but only in 2 provinces in Canada does any sort of comprehensive or consistent legislation exist (Alberta and Quebec) Canada needs Unclaimed Property Legislation in every Province – it should be considered an important part of Consumer Protection Legislation as it is in other Countries.

We’re on a mission to shed light on the problem while completing development of an online solution for individuals to use in order that they can securely and simply document their important financial & legal information

You can read the article as published by the Toronto Star online here or we’ve copied it here

 

MONTREAL—Millions of Canadians unknowingly have billions of dollars worth of their money and assets being held by companies and government agencies, available for recovery.

The Bank of Canada alone is holding nearly $1 billion from bank accounts and Canada Savings Bonds, but experts estimate unclaimed assets across the country could top $4 billion to $7 billion.

Canada is way behind other developed countries in having comprehensive unclaimed property legislation for all its residents, says accountant Brenda Potter Phelan.

“A country so progressive, so socially minded as Canada I find it hard to stomach that we don’t have some safeguards. In the U.S. and around the world they find this a main part of consumer protection,” she said from Cambridge, Ont., where she runs a website and blog called Legacy Tracker.

Quebec and Alberta are the only provinces with comprehensive laws, while British Columbia has a voluntary system. But Ontario is studying the adoption of its own system that could shine the light on a large treasure of unclaimed assets, including insurance policies, stocks and pensions.

In Canada, the total value of unclaimed assets is unknown but experts believe the numbers are staggering and growing.

The Bank of Canada’s unclaimed accounts grew 52 per cent over five years to reach $532 million as of December, with 93 per cent of accounts worth less than $1,000. The bank returned only $14 million to owners last year.

Non-redeemed Canada Savings Bonds and Canada Premium Bonds totalled $391 million as of March 31. The Office of the Superintendent of Bankruptcy Canada holds some $18 million.

Quebec has about $300 million of unclaimed financial and other assets, while B.C. and Alberta have tens of millions each.

Online searches can be conducted in each of those provinces and with the Office of Superintendent of Bankruptcy, but all Canadians can look at the Bank of Canada website.

Searches conducted during research for this story identified more than $10,000 of unclaimed financial assets for family and friends.

“I am very surprised,” Syma Shaffer said when told about the discovery of nearly $1,400 from a Montreal bank account closed in 1991.

Federally regulated banks are required to hand over unclaimed deposit accounts, term deposits & GICs and negotiable items such as drafts, money orders and certified cheques to the central bank after a decade of trying to notify the owner.

Excluded are non-Canadian currency accounts, RRSPs, credit union balances, gold or silver certificates, safety deposit boxes, insurance payments, court payments, stocks and dividends, wages and real estate deposits, most of which are covered by provincial legislation.

The largest single unclaimed account totalling $552,000 was transferred from a Royal Bank branch in Montreal. Its owner, Manuel Vinhas, had two dormant accounts worth nearly $677,000.

The bank wouldn’t comment on specific cases, citing privacy issues.

Greg Crone was elated when informed he had more than $6,600 of assets being held, likely from a deposit related to a 2003 car purchase.

But the Ontario resident couldn’t understand how RBC was unable to locate him after a move to another city since he has the same bank account.

“It’s pretty shocking. When they want to find you because you’re late on a payment or something they have no trouble finding you,” he said in an interview.

Experts say it’s not uncommon for people to lose track of their assets, forgetting old bank accounts or paid up life insurance policies. People often move without forwarding their mail for more than a year and many people die without their heirs knowing much about their finances.

“Some people live quite private lives and they die unexpectedly and people don’t even know to look,” said Darren Jack, chairman of a task force for the Unclaimed Property Professionals Organization.

 

Canada launches a 50 Year Bond. Really ?

canada-savings-bonds

Allow me to comment on the idea and now the reality of the Bank of Canada issuing 50 year bonds

On April 28th, Finance Minister Joe Oliver announced that the Government of Canada had indeed successfully issued $1.5 Billion in 50 year bonds maturing December 1 2064 at 2.96%.  He summarized as follows:

“In the current environment, it is both advantageous and prudent for our Government to lock in additional long-term funding. This 50-year bond will help us meet our goal of raising stable and low-cost funding to meet Canada’s financial needs and best serve taxpayers.”

I get that. It’s cheap debt for 50 years.

However, as the obsessed Unclaimed Intangible Property Legislation Advocate that I am for Canada…I’m obviously worried about how many Canadians will lose track of this 50 year bond. While I have not yet been able to pry the list of Unclaimed/Matured Canada Savings Bonds from the Government to calculate the average time it has taken to lose a Canada Savings Bond it’s a lot less than 50 years…

The value of Unclaimed/matured Canada Savings Bonds already exceeds $420 Million 

So, how many of these 50 year bonds will be forgotten by December 2064 (more) ?

Sad but true. Sorry I’m sarcastic but advocating for Unclaimed Intangible Property Legislation across the Land is exhausting work, It should not be so difficult to bring some awareness and concern to this issue given:

  1.  The estimated value of Unclaimed Financial Assets in Canada is somewhere between $4-6 Billion already
  2. The rate of increase for financial assets is already alarming. Unclaimed bank accounts increased by $181 Million (52% ) on a net basis over the past 5 years. Unclaimed Canada Savings Bonds increased by $161 Million (37% annualized ) over the past 20 months.
  3. For a multitude of reasons the rate of increase in financial assets becoming unclaimed will only increase without legislation and a solution in place (we’re working on both)
  4. Canada is so far behind in putting into place, Consumer Protection legislation to safeguard lost financial assets for Canadians and their families. It’s tragic and sad. The US has had comprehensive legislation in place for 50+ years. Legislation exists in most Countries including the UK,  Australia, New Zealand, Kenya etc.

For information about how to change the ownership of a bond, or the address of a bond holder or what to do about a lost, stolen or destroyed Bond please refer to the Bank of Canada website here   The rules, regulations and process is a bit overwhelming. Unfortunately, unlike the US and unlike the case of the $532 Million in unclaimed bank accounts relating to CDN $ accounts once held at a Federally Chartered Bank, there is no database of Unclaimed/Matured Canada Savings Bonds available to search.

You need to call to make an inquiry so please do, because I know for a fact, unfortunately that they are not looking for you.

Lost Bonds? Can including them in an RRSP reduce the risk?

Do Bonds Belong in an RRSP?

If it reduces the chance that the Bond becomes a “Lost Bond”  I think that’s a good reason to include Bonds in an RRSP

canada-savings-bondsA recent blog post (April 24th)  caught our interest as posts from the Canadian Couch Potato often do. This particular post was whether or not Bonds should be held within an individual’s RRSP. You can link and read this post here  

The post gave a thorough analysis for readers to consider which including a lot of factors like bond interest being fully taxable (versus dividends/capital gains), asset allocation considerations, comparable yields, RRIF withdrawal rules, foreign tax withholding etc.

The post from Dan Bortolotti was a summary of the work that he and & Justin Bender did in their white paper on the subject  including their full methodology. Their white paper Asset Location for Taxable Investors can be found here 

Again, Dan and Justin’s conclusions were based on a multitude of factors but they concluded that, it would have been preferable to hold bonds in an RRSP during the last decade. Those factors all need to be considered or re-considered going forward. But, I would like to humbly offer another factor going forward for their consideration…the risk of actual physical loss of the Bonds …will keeping the bonds inside an RRSP reduce the risk of them being lost all together ?

Because, the fact is that too many bonds are being lost and ending up unclaimed.

As of last December, the Bank of Canada has $420 Million in Unclaimed/Matured Canada Savings Bonds waiting to be claimed. Earlier this month, I received confirmation that Ontario had $64 Million in Unclaimed/Matured Ontario Savings Bonds as of March 2013, waiting to be claimed.

In both instances, there is no one within the Government looking for those owners. I have volunteered to do so. We will see if they accept my offer because I find it tragically sad that Canadian investors are losing track of their hard-earned financial assets including Bonds. What makes matter worse is that the Unclaimed interest earned by those bonds has most likely been taxed along the way. (Yes, It would be interesting to know if the T5’s reached the bond owner directly or if their returns were reassessed for that interest)

Assumption Alert

I’m going to make an assumption here that there is a better chance that an individual, a loved one or an executor will have a better chance of finding and locating an RRSP than a Bond certificate that could have very well been lost, destroyed, or misplaced somewhere along the way to it maturing. So…on the basis of that Assumption I think Bonds do belong in an RRSP. 

UNCLAIMED ACCOUNTS BANK OF CANADA

Q/A To/From the Bank of Canada on their $1.6 M error

After reading the Bank of Canada 2013 Annual Report issued a few weeks back I was stunned to read that they had made a $1.6 Million “inappropriate payment” Stunned because it’s ….THE BANK OF CANADA and stunned because I have yet to find anyone else that drew any attention to the error.  So I proceeded to ask for more information regarding this matter and a few other items including some questions & comments relating to other Unclaimed Amounts including unclaimed/matured Canada Savings Bonds (which I understand now total $420 Million)

I was happy to receive their reply although I can’t say I’m any clearer on how it’s possible that $1.6 Million was paid out “inappropriately” and while I still don’t know if anyone else has concerns about this matter,  I thought I would provide their reply here on my blog.

Their reply to other questions I posed about other Unclaimed amounts will follow shortly as I try to understand their correspondence.

Question to the Bank of Canada re: 2013 Annual Report

Your report notes that

“During 2013, the Bank discovered that $1.6 million had been inappropriately paid to an organization as a result of multiple claims submitted by that organization. The Bank has taken action to recover the funds, and the accounts have been reinstated on the UCBS registry.” Your notes go on further to note that this matter related to the processing of complex multi-account claims made by corporate entities, which have a greater risk of error.”

This is concerning to say the least given the role that the Bank of Canada holds for all Canadians in promoting stability and efficiency of our financial systems & controls and the role the Bank of Canada generally takes in managing our financial risk.

I have a hard time understanding how the appropriate due diligence procedures were not in place to prevent this from very large error from occurring. It’s unclear whether the duplication of claims by the organization referred to was intentional or not. I would appreciate receiving more detailed insight into this issue particularly if this breakdown in internal controls is going to make it even more difficult for Ordinary Canadians to claim their hard earned/tax paid unclaimed balances going forward

Answer from the  Bank of Canada (received April 8 2014)

Since the spring of 2012, a charitable organization has made 4 claims related to unclaimed balances held by the Bank of Canada. 3 of these, valued cumulatively at $1.6 million were paid out in 2012 and 2013. In July 2013, the staff processing the claims became concerned when a fourth significant claim, valued at $1.4 million, was received, and raised the issue to the Bank’s legal department.  A full review of the claim revealed that the organization was not entitled to the accounts claimed, and efforts began immediately to retrieve the funds. The Bank is committed to safeguarding the funds of Canadians that are entrusted to it by law. As the fiduciary, the Bank has the obligation to pursue the return of improper payments. To date, $800,000 has been recovered from the organization. External legal counsel has been engaged to investigate and determine if there is a reasonable prospect of recovering additional funds.

The claims submitted were not duplicates. Based on the results of an independent forensic audit, we have found no evidence that the original requests were fraudulent. However, they did not meet the Bank’s requirements for payment.

A claimant has to file documentation to substantiate they have a valid claim to the funds they have identified. The applications are processed by a team of staff who review the application and related documentation. If title can be reasonably established, a cheque is issued to the claimant. Due to the completeness of the records maintained by the originating banks from whom the balances were transferred, as well as personal circumstances of the account holders, establishing absolute title is sometimes not possible and judgement must prevail.  This can especially be the case for individuals claiming on behalf of account owners who are since deceased, as well as for corporate entities that have been bought out, wound up or merged with other corporate entities. In some cases, a Bond of Indemnity is required when clear and absolute title cannot be established, indemnifying the Bank if a different owner subsequently establishes title to the account.

Upon identifying the weaknesses in the process through an internal review, steps were taken to strengthen the adjudication process and a number of new checks and balances have been established to ensure similar payments are not made. Procedures have been strengthened mainly in the processing of complex multi-account claims made by corporate entities and associations, which have a greater risk of error. The Bank’s requirements reflect the fact that the Bank acts as legal custodian of these funds for the rightful owners. Unclaimed Balances are not Bank of Canada funds, which is why the documentation requirements are in place.

The Bank of Canada has returned some $135 million to approximately 75,000 different account owners over the past 10 years. The Bank has robust practices bolstered by structures that allow the review of procedures and promote accountability, as well as transparency. Mistakes can occur in any organization. The Bank’s record is that when it discovers a mistake has been made, it takes immediate action to correct it. It also takes whatever steps are required to ensure that such an error does not reoccur.  That is exactly what the Bank has done in this instance.

Comments/Questions/Suggestions/ideas ? I would love to hear what other Canadians think

 

Secrets behind Safety Deposit Boxes

Any day now someone will realize that they could make the story of unclaimed safety deposit boxes a reality TV show . I`m sure it will happen eventually. An article last year from New England Cable News provided some interesting details on how safety deposit boxes work in the US, but unfortunately, the article has since disappeared.  And very unfortunately, the article failed to shine any light on what happens to safety deposit boxes in Canada but we are still looking into that particular mystery.

In the US, each State takes responsibility for the boxes after 5 years of no activity (most importantly, missed payments) because safety deposit boxes are considered unclaimed property and well, the US has had unclaimed property legislation for about 40+ years.

After reading the story of a typical day of opening abandoned safety deposit boxes in a typical state like Wisconsin I have a new appreciation of why they REALLY try to return the boxes to the rightful owners.

Hundreds of boxes arrive at this particular office in Wisconsin but each State may vary in the additional amount of time they will hold abandoned items after receiving the boxes from the banks who have already held them for 5 years.. Wisconsin holds boxes for 2 years while Iowa will hold boxes for 10 more years.

“We’ve really tried to push our outreach efforts to let people know about unclaimed funds and getting money back to people,” said Scott Feldt, the deputy state treasurer. “That’s our major effort, that’s why we are here.”

They do so at by way of public events, radio, TV and newspaper interviews. They also publish lists of people owed unclaimed property in various newspapers and in their searchable online database.

More commonly, they hold coins and jewelry, old stamps and personal documents, like wills and marriage certificates. But often times unusual items of no monetary value re found in the boxes and they have no choice but to destroy. This story details some of those finds:

  •  One box contained a Band-Aid box and two toenails, wrapped in tissue.
  •  One box contained an empty envelope.(only)
  •  One box contained nothing but spoons.
  •  One box contained a Rolex box, but alas, no Rolex.
  •  One box contained dental gold, teeth still attached

 Some of the items are sold in monthly eBay auctions. The office holds the proceeds for the owner in the event someone later claims them.

Perhaps not these particular items but some items that are found to have value are sold in monthly eBay auctions and then the proceeds are held for the owner in the event someone later claims them.

And while it may depend on the State most will hold certain special items ‘in perpetuity’ like photographs and war medals which they know would mean the most…if they eventually find the rightful owners.

All in all, it seems like a fairly civilized and respectful process and transparent! I look forward to unraveling the story of unclaimed Canadian Safety deposit boxes.

The fate of abandoned safety deposit boxes is seen a little different according to the site Punny Money as noted below

US_Safety Deposit Box Info

Dear Bank of Canada: Some concerns about your Annual Report 2013

The Bank of Canada released their Annual Report for 2013 today. Perhaps you missed it. Perhaps you have not had the time yet to read it. I certainly don’t want to ruin your fun hence, I have noted this post with the far too popular Identifier: Spoiler Alert

After reading the report, (where do I find the time?) I have to say that I’m glad I took the time because I have 2 BIG concerns & I thought they were both worthy of sharing and worthy of a response from the Bank of Canada.

If you guessed that they have something to do with Unclaimed Balances by now ; You would be correct; because yes; I’m a little more than obsessed about this issue for the sake of Canadians and their families.

Reference Page 14 of 97

The 2 items that concern me come right after the explanation of what Unclaimed Balances are and where they come from. For your convenience I have flipped it around, so that part is copied below

Concern 1: Other Unclaimed amounts like Matured Canada Savings Bonds ($420M) and unclaimed bank balances held in a foreign currency 

The report notes: “At the end of 2013, the Bank was the custodian of 1.4 million of these accounts”  (in reference to unclaimed accounts transferred from federally chartered banks after 10 years of inactivity) “which had a total value of approximately $533 million.” 

That’s a very big and sad number and unfortunately, correct per the database noted on their website. But what about Unclaimed but Matured Canada Savings Bonds

According to recent email Correspondence I have from the Bank of Canada, the balance of Unclaimed Canada Savings Bonds was $420M at the end of Dec 2013.

I see the $532.7 in unclaimed balances specifically referred to on the Balance Sheet (Page 69) but there is no explanation about Canada Savings Bonds; the ones that individuals and families for the most part, could really use. Are they included in the $774.2M in “Other” liabilities immediately under “Unclaimed Balances” ?

I am also curious about what the value of Unclaimed bank balances that are held in foreign currency might be given that the value of those accounts are not included in the $532.7M nor on the Bank of Canada website. I’m not sure why that would be given that it seems reasonable that the Bank of Canada could convert these balances into a Canadian equivalent but nevertheless…I would very much appreciate your insight on the value of such accounts and where that amount is included in the Annual Statements.

As an accountant, I have to say that $774.2M seems like a really BIG number to define as “Other” I think it’s reasonable to have more insight into what this value of $774.2M is comprised of. Perhaps it includes  the Unclaimed balances referred to above; but I would also appreciate more insight into this balance of $774.2M.

Concern 2: The Bank of Canada inappropriately paid out $1.6M in error (?) during 2013 ?

“During 2013, the Bank discovered that $1.6 million had been inappropriately paid
to an organization as a result of multiple claims submitted by that organization.
The Bank has taken action to recover the funds, and the accounts have been
reinstated on the UCBS registry.”

“As a result, the Bank undertook a review of its processes for administering claims
for unclaimed balances. Procedures have been strengthened, particularly those
related to the processing of complex multi-account claims made by corporate
entities, which have a greater risk of error.”

So the Bank of Canada, the Head of all of our Banks; the lead in promoting stability and efficiency in our financial systems & the necessary control policies for our banking system (and us essentially) and the Bank that works on behalf of all Canadians to reduce their risk. ….made an error of $1.6M ?

Doesn’t ANYONE know how to do their job anymore? This is not a confidence builder…

My inquiry into these concerns has been sent to the Bank of Canada…I will of course share any/all insight when they follow-up and I hope they certainly do.

Oh Yes. Here’s the explanation that is standard fare in explaining what Unclaimed Balances are according to the Bank of Canada (And the Bank of Canada does not look at Matured but Unclaimed Canada Savings Bonds as just that)

An “unclaimed balance” is a Canadian-dollar deposit or negotiable instrument,
issued or held by a federally regulated bank or trust company, which has been
inactive for a period of 10 years and whose owner cannot be contacted by the
institution holding or administering it. It can be in the form of a deposit account,
bank draft, certified cheque, deposit receipt, money order, GIC, term deposit,
positive credit card balance or traveller’s cheque.
These balances are turned over to the Bank of Canada, which acts as custodian
on behalf of the owners. Balances are transferred to the Bank of Canada once a
year, on 31 December.
Under its unclaimed balances service (UCBS), the Bank of Canada holds unclaimed
balances of less than $1,000 for 30 years after they have been transferred to the
Bank. Balances of $1,000 or more will be held for 100 years. If the balance remains
unclaimed at the end of the prescribed custody period, the Bank of Canada transfers
the funds to the Receiver General for Canada.
Owners of these accounts can claim their money if they are able to provide
proof of ownership. Over the past 10 years, the Bank has paid out approximately
$135 million to claimants representing about 75,000 unclaimed balances, the
largest account being $600,000. In addition, during this time frame, the Bank
transferred $15 million to the federal government.

Annual-Report-2013

An Ongoing List of Questions that keep me up at night

 

Question 1Question 3Question 2

 

 

 

 

Yes. As a matter of fact. All of these questions have to do with Unclaimed Funds/Assets alternatively known as Unclaimed Intangible Property. Good Guess

Canada

The Bank of Canada provides an online search base for unclaimed balances held in Canadian dollars by federally chartered banks or trust companies that have had no activity for 10 years.  

Question: Why are foreign denominated accounts not available as well? What is the value of these accounts at December 31 2013 ?

The Bank of Canada stopped listing unclaimed accounts in the Canada Gazette as of 2007.

Question: What other search methods are being utilized to look for owners of accounts over and above the online search base? 

The Bank of Canada lists unclaimed bank accounts (Canadian Currency only-See note 1) turned over by federally chartered banks after a period of 10 years of inactivity on the Bank of Canada website for individuals, families and organizations to search.

Question:  Why are Canada Savings bonds that have matured but not been redeemed not available as well? I seem to be the only one in Canada that is aware that the balance of Unclaimed but Matured Canada Savings Bonds totalled $532M at December 31 2013. Why are families not able to search for these unclaimed Canada Savings bonds

Unclaimed safety deposit boxes are not included in Unclaimed fund balances reported on by the Bank of Canada.

Question: What is the requirement that the Bank of Canada makes on federally chartered banks with respect to unclaimed safety deposit boxes?

 Ontario

The Ministry of Finance requires that any accounts where there has been no activity for 10 years or more, be remitted to the Minister of Finance.

Question: What is the total value held by the Minister of Finance and are these accounts recoverable by the legal owners?

The Minister of Finance allows safety deposit box rentals to be terminated for non-payment when held by Ontario Savings Offices and allows for the contents of the boxes to be removed and disposed of by destruction, sale at auction or by private sale. The proceeds are to be remitted to the Consolidated Revenue Fund at the Ministry.  

Question: Are amounts over and above the rental arrears recoverable by the owners?

Bailiff Trust monies that remain unclaimed for 6 months are transferred to the Minister of Finance and may be paid to the legal owners.

Question: What is the balance of such accounts and what are the procedures for making a claim?

Unclaimed court awards are returned to the party against whom the award was made when the amount is unclaimed or otherwise undistributed “after a time set by the court”

Question: What is the general time frame allowed for making such distributions and what actions are taken to look for the parties awarded claims?

Unclaimed Brokerage trust accounts which are held for more than one year are paid to the administrative authority or the Minister of Finance.  The administrative authority must transfer such unclaimed trust accounts after a period of 5 years to the Minister of Finance.  

Question: What is the total value held on account of such accounts and are these accounts recoverable by the legal owners?

Unclaimed collection monies are transferred to the Minister of Finance if they are unpaid for a period of 6 months. The money may be paid to the legal owner upon satisfactory proof being provided to receive the money.

Question: What is the total value held on account of such accounts and what methods of contacting the legal owners are made ?

This is an ongoing list –  I will have more questions for you tonight