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How to search online for unclaimed money

By Daniel Workman

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Under Canadian law, the Office of the Superintendent of Bankruptcy (OSB) holds unclaimed funds after appointed trustees are unable to find the persons or businesses entitled to money recovered from bankruptcy proceedings.

The OSB posts new claimable cash opportunities in its unclaimed funds database each Tuesday. That online repository now has over 81 thousand records, with a total of $14.7 million in available cash.

Examples of unclaimed funds
Currently, the largest claimable amount in the OSB database is $179,636. found two other records worth over $100,000.

Below are additional examples of unclaimed records for individuals residing across Canada:

  • $29,867.26 recovered from an international trade venture.
  • $7,343.96 recovered from an investment firm.
  • $4,677.28 recovered from a construction company.
  • $2,184.68 recovered from a discount warehouse.

Another 30 Canadians can claim as much as $1,500 from a bankrupt jewellery importer. The database also has six claims involving credit card companies that total $1,120.43.

Other bankrupt sources for unclaimed funds include defunct financial consulting firms, fitness clubs, tanning salons and travel agencies.

Search for unclaimed money
Searching the unclaimed funds database is free.

Enter your name in the ‘Creditor name' field. Alternatively, type the money-owing party's name in the ‘Debtor name' field. You can also use wildcard searches like "Sm*" rather than "John Smith." In addition, you can change default settings in the 'unclaimed fund amount larger than' dollar-amount field or the ‘new records since' date field.

Click the Submit button to complete your query.

If you find an eligible claim record, jot down the corresponding claim number. Otherwise, be patient and revisit the unclaimed funds database at a later date. Bankruptcy proceedings can take at least two years from when bankruptcy is declared or an alternative proposal is made. Allow an extra 60 days for the OSB to update its database with new listings.

Claim your money
When you're ready to start the claims process, first file proof of claim with the designated bankruptcy trustee. That trustee must confirm your identity and claim entitlement, which establishes your proof of claim.

You can then prepare your formal claim request for the Office of the Superintendent of Bankruptcy.

As an individual applicant, you must provide:

  • The claim number from the unclaimed funds database.
  • Your current address and telephone number.
  • Supporting documentation including a signed affidavit and source documents that confirm your identity and eligibility for the funds.

You must also include a cheque or money order for $30 payable to the Receiver General for Canada. This processing fee is non-refundable.

Finally, send your request to the OSB via registered mail. Provided that all claim documents are in good order, an OSB representative advised that you should receive your money within four to six weeks.

One of the most surprising findings from our research is that, while the OSB offers a robust database for online searches, that same government agency doesn't accept credit cards or offer other forms of electronic payment for its services.

Published: April 12, 2011