Bank fixed deposit, PPF, EPF and mutual funds, among others, are some of the most popular saving and investment schemes in India. Even though investments in mutual funds have increased in the last few years, some of the other investment schemes have been popular since some time now. Investors have been investing in these schemes for a long time, and many account holders also hold multiple accounts in these investments avenues.
However, due to long investment tenures, or/and having multiple accounts, many people forget about their savings and investments. Experts say, one of the most common reasons this happens is because these accounts or policies were created or bought by someone a long time back, and people might have forgotten about them. Even though the institutions holding the money have to get in touch with the account holder after a certain period, most claim that they are unable to contact or get in touch with many customers as their address and contact details have changed over the years and are not updated with the institution.
This unclaimed money is moved to a different government funds after a certain period of time. There are various welfare and awareness funds where unclaimed money from such accounts are moved to. Account-holders and policyholders can claim their money directly from these funds. For instance, unclaimed money from bank fixed deposits is moved to the Depositor Education and Awareness Fund (DEAF), unclaimed insurance, PPF and EPF money is moved to the Senior Citizen’s Welfare Fund (SCWF), and unclaimed money from mutual funds and stocks is moved to the Investor Education and Protection Fund (IEPF).
Know where your unclaimed money is:
Depositor Education and Awareness Fund (DEAF)
DEAF consists of bank deposits that have remained unclaimed for 10 years. It was formed in 2014, and the unclaimed money from any bank account that has not been in operation for the past 10 years or more, is transferred to this fund within 3 months from the expiry of 10 years.
The DEAF scheme utilizes these funds to support the depositors’ interests and their awareness. Investors can claim their money even after the expiry of 10 years. They can also claim the amount after it has been transferred to the DEAF account. In this case, the bank will pay the account holder the money, which will be refunded by the DEAF to the bank.
Senior Citizen’s Welfare Fund (SCWF)
SCW fund holds unclaimed deposits from PPF, post office savings accounts, EPF, RD accounts and similar other accounts. This Welfare Fund was formed in 2015 to utilize unclaimed funds lying idle for a productive cause and in general welfare of the society. Usually after maturity of an investment or after the tenure ends, before transferring the unclaimed money, the insurers contact the account holders/the nominee.
In case of insurance money, for instance, if the money stays unclaimed at the end of 10 years from the due date, it is then transferred to the senior citizen welfare fund. Beneficiaries will be able to claim the money under their policies up to 25 years from the date of transfer of the same to the Senior Citizen’s Welfare Fund (SCWF).
However, if claims have not been made up to a period of 25 years after transfer to the SCW fund, such unclaimed amounts are transferred to the Central Government, in terms of Section 126 of the Finance Act, 2015. According to the Ministry of Finance, funds from the Senior Citizens Welfare Fund is utilized for the benefit of senior citizens.
Investor Education and Protection Fund (IEPF)
IEPF holds unclaimed dividend and unpaid money that have remained unclaimed over the years. Unpaid money and unclaimed dividend lying around get transferred to the Investor Education and Protection Fund, after 7 years. Investor Education and Protection Fund have its own government-run website, iepf.gov.in. This website is dedicated to the investors’ awareness and protection of their interests. Investors can visit the website, and check out if they have any unclaimed money lying around.