More than 60,000 South Australians are owed $30 million dollars by government departments, private companies and generous relatives they may never have known they had.
The official State Government database of those owed money has been published by advertiser.com.au, showing by far the biggest amounts are owed by the Public Trustee. The Government agency administers many wills for people who have lost their mental capacity or have no connected family.
One man, Aron Feldman, was left $3.5 million by one relative who died in 2008, but has not been able to be found since.
The Advertiser has obtained the database which was the subject of a Freedom of Information application by debt collectors, who find ordinary people and let them know how much money they are owed.
Is your name on the list?
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If you are on the list, contact the company involved or — in the case of deceased relatives — the Public Trustee.
AGL, which previously held all of the electricity accounts in SA, owes a combined $766,000 to 3090 people.
SA Water, which has one of the most active public-sector debt payment services, owes 66 people a total of $45,172.
A spokesman said the organisation was in contact with banks and Government departments to update contact details to find those owed money.
“Credit balances may arise due to direct debit payments still being paid to an old account or changes in accounts following the sale and subdivision of a property,’’ the spokesman said.
The applicant for the information was the Nationwide Claims Service based in NSW.
Owner and unclaimed money agent Maurice Pratt said the industry nationally was battling a disjointed state-based system which needed to bring together all those owed money across state borders.
“The problem in SA is that the government list on the internet shows who is owed money but not how much,’’ he said.
Mr Pratt said the exercise was worthwhile for many people, especially those owed significant amounts of money.
“It is a time consuming and costly business because many of these people have changed addresses,’’ he said.
“On the list with a private investigator we are able to identify and send letters to about one in every ten people identified, and of those we can get the money to about 80 per cent of people.’’
SA’s largest companies are some of the biggest creditors. Santos owes 7989 people a total of $1.7 million.
Many government departments, and hospitals also owe large amounts of money.
SA Ambulance owes 217 a total of $65,000.
The Women’s and Children’s Health Network owes 219 people a total of $84,696.
And the Department of Treasury and Finance itself, which compiles the list, owes 223 people $116,630.
Energy and Water Ombudsman Sandy Canale would not comment on the amounts owed by utility companies.
The State Government can refuse to release private information during the FoI application process but does so with the debt database so that individuals who are owed money can benefit from the scheme.