$149 million sitting in dormant accounts in BC waiting to be claimed

June 3, 2021

There is now approximately $149 million in unclaimed money from dormant accounts in British Columbia looking for a home, according to the most recent financial statements from the BC Unclaimed Property Society (Annual Report 2020).

Thousands of British Columbians have unclaimed funds waiting for them in inactive credit union accounts, as well as unpaid wages, overpayments to debt collectors, proceeds from courts, pension funds, estates and real estate deposits. BC Unclaimed, whose mission is to put unclaimed money back in the hands of the rightful owners, returned $1,035,932 last year in forgotten funds to verified claimants who were unaware they had forgotten funds.

BC Unclaimed holds unclaimed property as the custodian for rightful owners under the Unclaimed Property Act. The Society maintains a free online database (Search) where people can search to see if they have any unclaimed money waiting for them. Individuals can claim the funds by completing a verification process that firmly establishes their identities as rightful owners. There is no limitation period to claim funds and no cost for BC Unclaimed's services.

BC Unclaimed also works with companies and organizations to help get dormant assets off their books. In 2020, BC Unclaimed received $4,858,925 in unclaimed funds from the courts, the Public Guardian and Trustee of British Columbia, credit unions, insurance companies, various levels of government, companies in liquidation, among other organizations to be reunited with the rightful owners.

Technically, an account is deemed to be dormant when a prescribed period of time has transpired with no activity, from a year to 10 years, depending on the type of account involved. Under BC law, credit unions, debt collection agencies, real estate agencies, companies in liquidation, municipal and provincial courts and municipalities, which are classified as mandatory holders, are required to make a “reasonable effort” to identify forgotten account holders before transferring these funds to BC Unclaimed. Other organizations holding trust funds, insurance policies, brokerage accounts and closed pension plans are encouraged to voluntarily transfer their unclaimed property accounts to BC Unclaimed if the rightful owners cannot be located.

BC Unclaimed was established in 2003 by the Province of British Columbia and Vancouver Foundation to administer BC’s unclaimed property program. Under its philanthropic business model, a portion of BC Unclaimed's unclaimed funds are transferred each year to Vancouver Foundation for charitable purposes. Last year, the Society transferred $6.98 million to the Foundation to support community and social programs. British Columbia is the only jurisdiction in North America that has set up a not-for-profit society to administer its unclaimed property program where a portion of funds are transferred to charity.

Unclaimed Property in BC by the Numbers

$148,933,709 – Total amount of money sitting in dormant accounts in BC waiting to be claimed.

$4,858,925 – Amount of unclaimed funds BC Unclaimed received from financial institutions, companies and organizations in 2020.

$1,035,932 – Amount of money returned to verified claimants in 2020.

$106,789,525 – Total amount of money from dormant accounts BC Unclaimed has received since its inception on April 1, 2003.

$18,514,588 – Amount of money from dormant accounts BC Unclaimed has returned to rightful owners since its inception, representing.

$48.4 Million – Funds BC Unclaimed has transferred to Vancouver Foundation for charitable purposes since its inception.

$1.01 Million – Largest amount claimed. An outstanding estate claimed in July 2019.

$1.9 Million – Largest dormant account in BC waiting to be claimed.

More from BC Unclaimed

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Unclaimed funds could provide needed financial relief for British Columbians impacted by COVID-19

There is now more than $164 million in forgotten funds in BC looking for the rightful owners.

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Dormant funds from BC Unclaimed directed to fight COVID-19 pandemic

Every year, a portion of dormant funds remitted to BC Unclaimed is transferred to Vancouver Foundation to be used for charitable purposes.