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Sunday, January 30, 2022

Questions over privacy as firm helps retrieve unclaimed money for 23% fee


Wilson Moorthy’s wife was asked to sign this agreement with a company to help her obtain her unclaimed money, amounting to about RM4,000, for a 23% service fee.

GEORGE TOWN: A man was shocked when his wife received a call from a company offering to recover RM4,325 which was parked under her name at the Unclaimed Monies Department.

The couple, who were not even aware of the unclaimed money until the call came, were told that the company could do so for a commission of 23% of the amount, which would become payable after she got her money.

Real estate agent Wilson Moorthy, 55, said their main concern was the serious data leak, especially of the amount of money under their name, besides the personal details.

“The caller had my wife’s full personal details, such as her name and MyKad number.

Wilson Moorthy.

“But to get access to know how much unclaimed money is parked under her name at the accountant-general’s office is mind-boggling.

“By right, such information should be highly personal and should not be given to third parties.

“I want to know who the directors of the company are. I want to know if this company had been authorised to do so by the finance ministry, which has jurisdiction over this government department,” he told FMT.

Wilson said the agent also claimed to have had a high success rate, showing testimonies of customers who had engaged his services.

Under the current practice, those with unclaimed monies can do so free of charge, in person or online.

In his wife’s case, Wilson said the unclaimed money was from an insurance company and was gazetted in 2019.

Wilson said the agent had a form with his wife’s details for him to make the claims on her behalf.

“Those who are not familiar with the system would have blindly believed this agent and paid the 23% fee,” he said.

Lawyer George Varughese urged all to be wary of such consent forms, which are essentially “power of attorney” documents that could be abused to make other claims.

He said the more serious issue here was private data of people being abused through unsolicited calls and also exposure of personal details without consent.

Another section of the agreement to get the unclaimed money.

“The government should take a proactive step to educate all on how to make claims and ease the process of doing so in person or online,” he said.

Checks by FMT at the Companies Commission showed the agent’s company was incorporated last April and had a RM3,000 paid-up capital.

When contacted by FMT, the agent said his consultancy firm was operating legally and depended on the consent of those wanting to use its services to make claims.

“Most clients don’t know they have unclaimed money. So that’s why we call them and let them know. We don’t force them.

“All the information regarding unclaimed monies are published in the National Archives. My firm’s higher management gets the details of our clients,” he said,

He said the company does not take any upfront payments, nor are there any hidden fees involved.

“We only invoice them after they get the money,” he added.

It has been reported previously that the total amount of unclaimed monies was RM10.8 billion as of October 2019. - FMT

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