The easiest money you will ever make

Australians have lost $16.8 billion worth of their superannuation, according to the Australian Tax Office (ATO).

If you haven’t checked to see if you have any missing super, you could be missing out on thousands.

The latest data from the ATO shows there were more than 6 million lost and ATO-held accounts holding $16,782 million at the end of June 2014. It’s an improvement over the previous year, when close to $19 billion was classified as lost.

ATO Lost Super

Source: ATO

According to Assistant commissioner John Shepherd, more than 40% of super account holders have more than one account. He has told the Australian Financial Review (AFR) that he was concerned that $6.3 billion was sitting in super accounts where the funds have lost contact with the owner.

“It’s easy for this to happen because when people get married or move house, the last thing on their minds is updating their name and address details with their super fund. It is important to make sure your super fund has your tax file number,” he says.

People also forget to move their super when they change jobs, or become temporarily unemployed.

Even if you think you haven’t got any lost super, you might want to check the ATO’s SuperSeeker website anyway. Who knows? Those one or two jobs that you’ve completely forgotten about could turn out to have thousands in your name.

And if that’s not enough for you, there’s another $1.2 billion sitting in unclaimed cash, including cash in dormant bank accounts, lost shares, dividends, energy and rental bonds, premiums and overpayments.

Those funds have been earning tax-free interest since July 1, 2013. But it’s not all beer and skittles. The interest rate is based on the percentage change in the Consumer Price Index year on year – in other words, not very much at all.

The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) website has more details on who to contact, and how to find lost money.

And if you are lucky enough to find some lost money, rather than blowing it on a celebration or a lottery ticket, we’d recommend you buy some blue-chip dividend paying shares such as Insurance Australia Group (ASX: IAG), Telstra Corporation Ltd (ASX: TLS), Woolworths Limited (ASX: WOW) or Wesfarmers Limited (ASX: WES).

While claiming lost money and super is one way, there's another way for ordinary people to get rich...

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Motley Fool writer/analyst Mike King owns shares in Woolworths and Telstra. You can follow Mike on Twitter @TMFKinga

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