As a result, many of these accounts become dormant and inoperative. As of the last financial year, Rs 26,496 crore of PF money was with the Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) in inoperative accounts. Since 2011, the government body has stopped crediting interest to accounts that do not receive contributions for 36 months continuously, classifying these inoperative.
One problem many face is a lack of awareness about the procedure to follow for transferring money from the previous account to the new one. For example, people don’t know the forms to fill, where to send these and the documentation needed from the previous employer. This might change soon. From January, the organisation has launched a drive to help such account holders. EPFO has asked field offices to identify the beneficiaries of inoperative PF accounts and settle those by making payments or transferring money to their active accounts. To quicken the process, EPFO has an online helpdesk.
The facility is meant to help members trace their PF numbers or find the total fund accumulated. The biggest problem with subscribers is that they don’t remember their account numbers, said financial planners.
All you need to do now is log onto EPFO’s website www.epfindia.com. Under the section ‘for employees’, there’s a link to ‘Inoperative A/C Helpdesk System’. First, the subscriber needs to key in the problem he or she is facing and then fill details such as the name of the employer, date of joining and leaving the company, personal details and so on. Once these are done, you will receive a reference number. Make sure to make a note of it as it’s not communicated through email or mobile.
If the details are traced, the helpdesk will communicate the further procedure to subscribers. Account holders can withdraw money by filling the claim form. For transfers to a new account, EPFO recently launched a web facility.
According to financial planners, account holders should immediately act. PF is the key to retirement planning. “Even if a person has not earned interest for a year or two, it can drastically impact the retirement corpus,” said Suresh Sadagopan, a certified financial planner. He also suggested it’s better to transfer the balance to a new account than withdrawing it. For example, you had Rs 2 lakh in an old PF account that stopped receiving interest since 2011. In four years, the money would have grown to about Rs 2.8 lakh. This means, you lose Rs 80,000.
It’s not only about losing interest and, consequently, not benefiting from power of compounding. Dormant accounts can be the targets of scams. Two years ago, EPFO discovered fraudsters had siphoned off money from inactive PF accounts by forging documents. This was prominent in establishments that had closed down and where remittances had not been received for many years by EPFO.