If you have a bank account in Florida that's gathering dust, you are subject to state regulations regarding dormant accounts. If you do not touch your money or interact with the bank, you may find yourself assessed fees, or even have your money transferred to the state. However, such a transfer isn't permanent, and you'll generally be able to get your money back.
Defining Dormant Accounts
According to Florida law, banks must consider your account dormant after five years of inactivity. Florida provides a very clear definition of inactivity, including a complete absence of deposits or withdrawals from your account. In addition, your account is inactive if you have not communicated with the bank by letter, telephone or memo about your account or any other business for five years. Florida law concerning dormant accounts extends to all deposit accounts, including checking, savings and money market accounts.
A bank will consider your account active if you take minimal actions, including simply visiting the bank and asking that they credit interest to your account.
Florida allows your bank to assess inactivity fees on your account, but state law does not specify what these fees may be. As a result, inactivity fees can vary considerably from bank to bank. State law does require that your bank document any inactivity fees in the paperwork you receive when you first open your account, but the bank may change the fees or even introduce new fees by sending you a notice in the mail. The bank also may cease paying interest when your account becomes dormant.
Florida law requires that the bank notify you at least three months before it stops regular interest payments or begins assessing inactivity fees.
Bank Reporting and Responsibilities
If you opened your account after October 1, 1990, have at least $50 in the account and have listed a beneficiary, the bank must notify your beneficiary when your account becomes dormant. Within 180 days after your account becomes dormant, the bank must conduct a thorough search to locate you. If the bank is unable to reach you, if a first-class letter sent to your address is returned, or if you do not respond to the bank's attempts to reach you, the bank must surrender the entire value of your account to the Florida Bureau of Unclaimed Property and include this action on an annual report filed with the Bureau.
How to Get Your Money Back
The Florida Bureau of Unclaimed Property retains funds and property surrendered to it indefinitely. The Bureau offers an online tool for searching unclaimed property on its website. If you find that the Bureau is holding your property, its online search tool will present a form you can use to claim your funds.
You can also contact the Bureau by phone at (850) 413-5555, but the Bureau must receive your official claim form online or by mail.