BACS said 60 million dividend cheques are sent to shareholders every year, but many are never cashed in.
Listed companies are under an obligation to set up an account for all unclaimed dividends. Shareholders have up to 12 years to claim these payouts, after which time the company can reclaim them.
Research, conducted by the clearing service revealed the majority of shareholders would prefer to have dividends paid directly into their bank accounts.
BACS spokesman, Murray Cohen, said setting up a direct payment was a fairly easy task: ‘All the shareholder needs to do is complete the details of their bank or building society account on the form that accompanies the dividend cheque.
‘Once the form has been returned all future dividends will be paid straight into shareholder’s bank account.’
Keith Hollender from the Unclaimed Assets Register added his support to the direct payment method.
‘Any solution to tackle the growing mountain of unclaimed assets has to be welcomed. Not only does the UAR give its support to shareholders receiving dividends via the BACS service, but would also encourage insurers to look into paying matured life policies in the same way.’
Last year the UAR, which manages a database of unclaimed assets, reported that up to Pounds 15bn lay unclaimed in the vaults of UK companies and institutions. Of that Pounds 3bn are monies unclaimed on shares and dividends.
The rest is made up of dormant accounts, national savings, pension funds and life polices. More than Pounds 300m lies waiting for national lottery winners to collect their prize money.
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