While risk-averse investors prefer to park money in bank fixed deposits, over the years the amount of unclaimed deposits has risen significantly. Similarly, unclaimed amounts in savings and current accounts, too, are growing. Accounts become inoperative when no money is deposited or withdrawn for a specified period of time.
Data from the RBI shows as on end-December 2012, Rs 2,474 crore of unclaimed amount is lying in savings accounts with banks in 1.09 crore accounts. In current accounts, Rs275 crore is lying unclaimed in 4.42 lakh accounts and Rs 482 crore in fixed deposits in 8.42 lakh accounts across all scheduled commercial banks in the country. Bank-wise, the largest lot of unclaimed deposits in savings accounts is with State Bank of India and its associates with R584.5 crore lying in 17 lakh savings accounts.
Banks classify a term-deposit account as unclaimed if the amount is not renewed or withdrawn for ten years or more from the date of maturity. The unclaimed term-deposit account is closed at the branch level and the amount is transferred to the head office. The current account, savings account (CASA), which has completed 10 years from the date of the last operations, other than interest credits and service charge debits, are marked as unclaimed deposits and the money in the inoperative accounts is transferred to the bankís suspense account.
In fact, last year Reserve Bank of India had directed all banks to display the names of people who have not claimed their term deposits or havenít operated their CASA account. ďKeeping in view the public interest, it has been decided that banks should play a more proactive role in finding the whereabouts of the account holders of unclaimed deposits/inoperative accounts. Banks are, therefore, advised that they should display the list of unclaimed deposits/inoperative accounts which are inactive/inoperative for ten years or more on their respective websites,Ē the central bank said in a statement.
Banks have started displaying the names and addresses of the customers who have unclaimed deposits. However, the account number, its type and the name of the branch are not disclosed on the banksí website. In case the accounts are not in the name of individuals, the names of individuals authorised to operate the accounts are indicated.
The central bank also directed banks to give information on the process of claiming the unclaimed deposit or activating the inoperative account and the necessary forms and documents for