By Elizabeth Adegbesan
YOUR bank account becomes dormant if you don’t use it to perform any transaction for two years. Such transactions include withdrawal of cash at a branch or Automated Teller Machine (ATM), payment by cheque, transfer of funds through Internet banking, mobile banking or ATMs, receiving dividend on shares or the interest of your fixed deposit in your savings account.
Causes of Dormant account
According to data from the Nigeria Interbank Settlement System (NIBSS), there are 36.7 million dormant bank accounts in Nigeria as at December 31, 2017. The factors responsible for this huge number include illness and death. Also, ownership of multiple bank accounts has led to abandonment of some of the bank accounts that eventually became dormant.
What happens to dormant bank accounts?
The contents of a dormant account remain in place two years after you perform the last transaction. If you do not perform transactions in your account for an extended period and your bank has tried and failed to contact you over the required period of time the bank will qualify the account as dormant.
A dormant account can also generate debt. This is because it is still subject to fees, maintenance charges and other charges the bank may levy while you were using the account.
If your account does not yield interest, such fees or charges can erase the balance of your account over time or even put your account in the red. In the case of savings and other interest-earning accounts, the fees can yield proceeds, depending on the starting balance. The fees and charges will continue to be debited from your account.
How to claim a dormant fund
According to guidelines issued by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) in October 2015, on banks’ management of dormant accounts, the apex bank stated: “Three months to dormancy, the bank shall notify the account holder of the status of the account. For individual accounts that the bank cannot reach the account holder during the three (3) months period, it shall contact the next-of-kin to assist in locating the account holder(s). “This will be done within one month after the account has been declared dormant. For corporate accounts, the bank shall contact the directors of the entity or seek information from the Corporate Affairs Commission on the Directors.”
When you have been notified by your bank on the dormancy of your account, the next thing you should do is to first get in touch with your bank. They will check your account’s status and track down your funds.
The best way you can prevent an account from being dormant is to either keep using it for transactions or to close it yourself manually.