West Australians have almost $60 million locked up in Federal and State coffers as the piles of unclaimed money hit record levels.

The Australian Securities and Investments Commission's consumer information site, MoneySmart, shows $53.4 million belonging to current or former WA residents who have lost track of bank accounts, life insurance policies, shareholdings and dividends.

A total of $677 million is held by MoneySmart nationally after almost $100 million of orphaned cash flowed into the Federal unclaimed money register and only about $56 million was returned to its rightful owners.

This is on top of lost superannuation accounts held by the Australian Taxation Office and fortunes held by public trustee and State treasuries, including more than $6 million held by WA Treasury.

With so much money getting stale, ASIC is launching a campaign to get Australians to check through MoneySmart and other unclaimed money registers.

The biggest amount held nationally by ASIC is $992,750.14 that a one-time Carlisle resident deposited in a Commonwealth Bank account.

"It is an extraordinary amount and we are waiting for someone to come and claim it," Money-Smart chief Robert Drake said.

The third biggest amount nationally is $784,864.64 in proceeds from Southern Cross Broadcasting's takeover and subsequent compulsory acquisition of shares of production group Southern Star eight years ago.

ASIC commissioner Peter Kell said people could have unclaimed money if they had changed address, were an executor of a deceased estate or had not made a transaction on a particular cheque or savings account for more than seven years.

"You might not know it yet, but you could have thousands of dollars sitting in an old bank account, shares or a life insurance policy," he said. "Until you look, you'll never know if you or your family have unclaimed money."

Sporting clubs, professional and student bodies and scout groups also have unclaimed money. Mr Drake said getting money back from the Federal register was not difficult, provided someone could establish their entitlement. One of the trickiest things for people was proving that they had lived at a certain address a long time ago.

The West Australian

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