RBI issues new order to help recovery of unclaimed deposits in banks

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has issued fresh instructions to banks to strengthen the ongoing efforts to reduce the quantum of unclaimed deposits in the banking system and return such deposits to their rightful owners or claimants.

As per the extant instructions, the credit balance in any deposit account maintained with banks, which have not been operated upon for 10 years or more, or any amount remaining unclaimed for 10 years or more are required to be transferred by the banks to the DEA Fund maintained by the RBI.

Based on its latest review, the RBI has decided to issue comprehensive guidelines on the measures to be put in place by the banks covering various aspects of classifying accounts and deposits as inoperative accounts and unclaimed deposits, as the case may be, periodic review of such accounts and deposits, measures to prevent fraud in such accounts/deposits, grievance redressal mechanism for expeditious resolution of complaints, steps to be taken for tracing the customers of inoperative accounts/ unclaimed deposits including their nominees/ legal heirs for re-activation of accounts, settlement of claims or closure and the process to be followed by them.

The revised instructions will come into effect from April 1, 2024.

The bank shall contact the holder(s) of the inoperative account/unclaimed deposit through letters, email or SMS (if the email and mobile number are registered with the bank). The email/ SMS shall be sent on a quarterly basis, the guidelines state.

In case the whereabouts of the holder(s) of the inoperative account/ unclaimed deposit are not traceable, the banks shall contact the introducer, if any, who had introduced the account holder to the bank at the time of opening of the account. The banks shall also contact the nominee, if registered, for tracing the customer.

The banks shall make available the facility of updation of KYC for activation of inoperative accounts/ unclaimed deposits at all branches (including non-home branches) and through Video-Customer Identification Process (V-CIP) if requested by the account holder, subject to the facility of V-CIP being provided by the bank. The V-CIP related instructions under Master Direction – Know Your Customer (KYC) Direction, 2016 dated February 25, 2016 (as updated from time to time) shall be adhered to by the bank.

Banks have also been instructed to host the details of unclaimed deposits {only name, address (without pin code) and Unclaimed Deposit Reference Number (UDRN)}, which have been transferred to DEA Fund of RBI on their respective websites, which shall be updated regularly, at least on a monthly basis.

The banks, which do not have their own websites shall make available the above list of unclaimed deposits in their respective branches. The database hosted on the website shall provide a search option to enable the public to search for their unclaimed deposits using name in combination with the address of the account holder/ entity.

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