How To Be an Active Member at WFCU

three pennies and red stamp that says billed, representing inactive account fees

Have you ever received a bank or credit union fee for having an inactive or dormant account?  Do you know why you received a charge when all you did was open an account to grow your savings?  According to State Treasury Departments, bank and share accounts are not “set it and forget it” financial vehicles.

Each state has different guidelines for requiring abandoned accounts to be remitted to the state as unclaimed property.  If you do not show activity on your account, you run the risk of not only getting hit with inactivity fees; you may have to reclaim your money from the State Treasury Department.

Unclaimed property consists of bank accounts, wages, utility deposits, insurance policy proceeds, stocks, bonds, and contents of safe deposit boxes that typically have been abandoned for one to five years.1

Accounts become dormant for several reasons:

  1. They are not used for a prolonged period of time
  2. The account owner has moved and forgotten about an account
  3. An account owner dies and passes it to an heir without the heir knowing
  4. A family member opened an account on behalf of a relative, unbeknownst to the relative
  5. An account was opened so long ago; it is simply forgotten

Dormant vs. Abandoned Accounts

Financial institutions will flag an account as inactive when there are no documented transactions or contact for a specified time.  The time can be anywhere from 6 months to 2 years; it varies by financial institution.  The bank or credit union will notify the account holder that the account is dormant, and an associated fee may be charged.  These fees can range from $5 – $20 per month.

If the account remains inactive or dormant for an extended period, it will be flagged as abandoned property.  As required by law, the funds, or unclaimed property, will be turned over to the state, also known as escheatment.The financial institution will notify the account holder when this occurs.  The time elapsed between an account being classified as dormant versus abandoned is contingent on the state where the account is located.

Account Activity

Dormancy or inactivity fees limit escheatment by incentivizing customers to keep their accounts active.  Notably, dividends earned on the account are not considered activity.  Activity that will help avoid dormant fees include:

  • Depositing or withdrawing funds – consider scheduling reoccurring or automatic deposits, withdrawals, or payments
  • Checking your balance at an ATM
  • Sending written correspondence to the bank regarding your account
  • Closing or consolidating an account if you have no use for the dormant account

Unclaimed Property

Once account funds are sent to the state, they are held as unclaimed property.  One way to avoid this from happening is to ensure your contact information on file at your financial institution is up-to-date and accurate.

If the state has your funds, each respective state website has directions on reclaiming your property.   In North Carolina, you can reclaim your property by going to the North Carolina Department of State Treasurer website and following their instructions.

You can also review the North Carolina Department of State Treasurer Unclaimed Property Guide for further information on the rules and regs governing unclaimed property.

For further information about account activity, please speak with a WFCU representative at one of our branch locations.  You’re always welcome at WFCU!

 

1https://www.nc.gov/living/housing-property#:~:text=Unclaimed%20property%20consists%20of%20bank,for%20one%20to%20five%20years

2https://www.investor.gov/introduction-investing/investing-basics/glossary/escheatment-financial-institutions

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