Tuesday, October 24, 2017
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Finding lost treasure: Recovery roadmap of five financial instruments

How people have traced unclaimed dividends and assumed lost dividend cheques

By OLM Desk

The last two months have been rather eventful for the currency note. In the process, we also heard of several amusing tales – women coming out declaring their stashed cash to husbands and sons. Several piggybanks came crashing as people had high value currency notes in them. In many ways, several homes got into a clearing mode, unearthing several money-related documents. One such set was about unclaimed dividends and unclaimed insurance policy proceeds. The quantum of unclaimed money that rests in banks, with post offices, PF accounts, insurance companies and even the income tax department is estimated to run into over Rs 30,000 crore.

Worry not if you have located all these old documents now. The Investor Education and Protection Fund (IEPF), which falls under the Ministry or Corporate Affairs is where all this unclaimed money is parked. The IEPF is for promotion of investors’ awareness and protection of the interests of investors. The unclaimed sum is used to promote awareness. There are clear guidelines and instructions on the IEPF website on how one can make a claim for the unclaimed sums under different financial instrument, with relevant documents needed to raise a claim.

Lazy behaviour

One of the most common reasons why people forget to keep track of dividends and policies is the lack of proper record keeping. It is common for people to not maintain financial papers in a manner that it can be easily identified and tracked. Another reason for such oversight is the disorganised manner in which most of us manage our finances. One tends to haphazardly make investments and savings, which leads into a situation wherein people maintain different relationships for different products.

It is common to have an insurance agent, a bank relationship manager for investments and a post office agent for small savings. Any change in the contact point leads into missing out on paperwork – insurance renewal, minimum annual deposits with small savings and more. IN the case of PF, most often when changing jobs, employees do not maintain their PF details including accounts to know about their contributions.

Technology to rescue

The digital trail has its benefits – there is a trail with the mail ID you have mentioned when investing or saving. There is also the possibility of leaving your mobile phone number as the contact, which makes it easy for institutions and regulators to contact you in future. Today, most financial instruments have linkages to your PAN or bank account, thereby reducing the probability of losing out on what is rightfully yours. In case of investments in equities and mutual funds, the demat details or folio numbers are a good start to get a handle on tracking your investments. 

The aadhar link to your bank account and it creeping into several financial instruments as a contact field will reduce the probability of losing out with unclaimed money from different financial products and services. But, if you have already missed out on what is rightfully due to you from the past, there are ways to recover it.

The recovery roadmap

Every financial instrument has different sets of requirement, so depending on what instrument you are facing difficulty with, you can make sure you get back your money by following the relevant checklist.

Mutual Funds

AMC, issue dividends to investors who have invested in the dividend option of mutual funds. Earlier, they used to issue cheques and send them to the unit holders’ addresses. This means that investors who have not updated their communication addresses or bank account details might not have claimed the dividend cheques. So, the AMC keeps the unclaimed dividends for three months. After that, they are reinvested in the money markets.

The AMC can retain this sum for three years, after which they need to transfer the gains from these investments to the Investor Education fund. This does not mean that the investor loses their unclaimed money – the principal amount with gains earned in 3 years will be paid back. An AMC may charge the investor when they make a late claim on the dividend.

To make the claim, you will need to quote the folio number of your MF investments, and approach the AMC. In case of demise of the unit holder, the nominee needs to submit the required proof of legal heir documents to claim the sum.

Stocks

In case you have not dematerialised your investments, you will need to do so. Companies issue dividend warrants (interest payments in case of bonds) on a regular basis. The unclaimed dividend money is shown as ‘unclaimed dividend’ on the company’s annual report. This procedure is followed for seven years after-which the money is transferred to Investor Education and Protection Fund. To make a claim, you need to contact the company’s registrar or share transfer agent. You will then need to provide them with the stock folio numbers (or bond certificate), bank account details and KYC proofs.

Tax refund

These days, the Income Tax department directly remits the tax refund to the assessees’ bank accounts. But there are instances, when the tax department will send the refund warrants in the physical form. In case you have forgotten to deposit these warrants, all is not lost, although you will not get any interest on the unclaimed tax refund. You could contact the Centralized Processing Centre (CPC) with acknowledgement number based in Bangalore or the local PRO (Public Relations Officer) at the Income Tax office.

Life insurance

Although it is important that you raise the maturity or death claim as soon as the policy matures or death occurs. In case of delayed death claims – you may be subjected to scrutiny, as the insurer may get into seeking more than usual information on the nature of death and the delays. To make a claim, you will need to visit the office that issued the policy and submit the policy bond and bank account details to them. You may also need to supplement any other details about you being the nominee or anything else that the insurer may seek when making the claim.

Banks

Unclaimed FDs constitutes a huge number. According to the RBI, bank deposits which have not been claimed for ten years or more will be transferred to ‘Depositor Education and Awareness Fund Scheme.’ To make a claim, you will need to visit the relevant bank branch with the FD receipt, bank account details and passbook if any. You may have to submit photo identification proofs or be KYC complaint. In case you are the nominee of the deceased FD holder, you may need to submit proof of being the legal heir.

 

olmdesk@outlookindia.com

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