The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) Governor Shaktikanta Das has announced that a centralised portal will be set up to enable search for unclaimed deposits across multiple banks. This move comes as no surprise given the quantum of unclaimed deposits lying with the RBI’s Depositors’ Education and Awareness Fund (DEAF) which was revealed to be over Rs 35,000 crore across public sector banks.
What Are Unclaimed Deposits?
But how does the money in your bank account land up as an unclaimed deposit with the DEAF? This starts with the bank account first turning inoperative, and then eventually an unclaimed deposit. Savings and current accounts become inoperative or dormant if there are no transactions (either by the customer or any third party) in them for more than two years. Recurring and term deposits turn inoperative if the deposit amount remains unclaimed even two years after maturity.
Then, finally, at the end of ten years after an account – whether a savings, current or term deposit account – has become inoperative, the amount in such an account is transferred to the DEAF as an unclaimed deposit. Once that happens, the amount earns simple interest at a rate declared by the RBI, which has been 3 percent with effect from May 11, 2021.
How to Find Them?
Today, if you wish to find out whether you or any of your family members have an unclaimed amount with any bank, you need to check for this on the website of each bank individually. You have to key in a few basic details such as the account holder’s name, address, date of birth, or PAN to check if there is an unclaimed amount. You do not need to know the account number for this.
The search can be cumbersome, especially if you are searching for unclaimed amounts in the name of a deceased family member. In many such cases, you may not even be aware of all the bank accounts that the deceased person held on the date of his demise.
Some banks also put out a list of names and addresses of customers with inoperative accounts and unclaimed deposits. However, a centralised portal will make it easier for a family to search for their unclaimed deposits provided the portal is user-friendly with a capability to search using multiple parameters such as name, PAN, date of birth, city, etc.
Why the Money Became Unclaimed?
Providing historical background to how unclaimed deposits emerged, Rajat Dutta, Founder, Inheritance Needs Services, mentions that in the past, banks would have had only the names of the registered nominees. As a result, it would become difficult to trace them after the demise of the account holder. Today, banks seek nominee details including name, address, and contact details.
Elaborating on the reasons for what has resulted in unclaimed deposits, Adhil Shetty, CEO, Bankbazaar.com, says, “Often the dependents of the deceased account holder do not know about these investments. Many times, there is no nominee or the nominee details have not been updated, or even the account holder’s address and other contact details may have changed but have not been updated in the bank’s records.”
Shetty says it’s therefore very important to keep your dependents, especially, nominees and heirs informed about all your investments and how to access the required documents if and when required.
How to Make a Claim?
According to Dutta, to claim the money where the sole account holder has passed away, the nominee must submit the claims form, the notarised death certificate of the account holder (along with the original death certificate) and the claimant’s own identity and address proofs.