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There is R47.3bn in unclaimed retirement funds. Some of it might be yours, but beware of scams.

  • There is still R47.3 billion in unclaimed retirement funds in South Africa.
  • But beware of scams, warns the Actuarial Society of South Africa (ASSA).
  • Returning pension money to beneficiaries or their descendants is tricky.
  • This is because they have to give verifying information to tracing agents.
  • For more stories go to www.BusinessInsider.co.za.

There is still R47.3 billion in unclaimed retirement funds in South Africa. But there are also people who will use that fact to run scams, warns the Actuarial Society of South Africa (ASSA).

Pension funds are looking to pay out billions in unclaimed retirement funds, but they are simultaneously warning the public not to fall prey to scammers, says Jeanine Astrup, a consulting actuary and ASSA member.

Returning money to beneficiaries, or their descendants, is tricky, as they have to give verifying information to tracing agents hired by the pension funds.

Astrup understands that people might be wary about someone phoning them up and offering money, if they first need to hand over personal information such as ID and bank account details to facilitate the payment of benefits.

“With all the scams out there, it is no surprise that members are sceptical when, out of the blue, they receive a phone call or email advising them that the employer they left five, 10 or even 20 years ago would like to pay them money,” says Astrup.

She notes that simply dismissing legitimate approaches by tracing agents makes it very difficult for retirement funds to unite people with their benefits.

Astrup gives these tips as a way to avoid being scammed:

The tracing agent will know something about you. If you receive a text message saying that you have unclaimed benefits owing, but the SMS does not include your name, it is likely to be a scam.

If you receive a phone call from someone, ask for a number that you can call them back on. All legitimate callers will have no problem providing you with a contact number for a return call.

Ask the tracing agent what company they are doing the tracing for, and what the company may have been called before. If you did not work for that company, then you would not have a benefit due.

Ask the tracing agent for a letter from the company they are tracing for, do an internet search to check that the tracing agent is a legitimate company, and make sure that, if you receive an email, the email address includes the tracing agent’s name.

Call the pension fund and ask if they are doing a tracing exercise. Contact details for every pension fund’s principal officer is available on the Financial Sector Conduct Authority (FSCA) website.

Astrup says that tracing agents have to request personal information, such as ID and bank account details, in order to facilitate the payment of your benefits.

“If you are worried that the request may be a scam, ask for the administrator’s email address so that you can send your documents to the administrator directly. Again, make sure that the email address looks legitimate and is not a free web-based service like Gmail or Hotmail.”

She also stresses that a tracing agent will never need your bank account login details, or any pins from your bank.

Those wanting to find out if they have pension funds coming their way don’t have to wait for a tracker to find them. All they have to do is contact the FSCA to see if they have money owed to them.

Here’s how to find out if you have pension funds due to you:  

  • Online search via the FSCA website
  • Email enquiry for an ID number: Pensions.UBmemberID@FSCA.co.za
  • Email enquiry for a general request: Pensions.UBQuery@FSCA.co.za
  • SMS enquiry: send your ID number to 30913
  • SMS general enquiry: text 30766
  • Fax submissions: 086 578 1183
  • Toll-free telephone enquiries: 0800 20 3722
  • Walk in clients address: River Walk Office Park, Block B, 41 Matroosberg Road, Ashlea Gardens