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Information needed to claim money surprises

Q.        I recently turned 65 and applied to withdraw my funds from KiwiSaver.  I was surprised how much personal information I had to provide.  Now that my account is closed, what happens to that information?
 
A.         Our private information is in the spotlight at the moment with the Government trying to pass the Government Communications Security Bureau and Related Legislation Amendment Bill - in the face of much opposition both in and outside of Parliament.  
 
We are also warned about identity theft and the importance of protecting our personal information. But we cannot set up (or close) a KiwiSaver account without providing proof of who we are and where we live. There are strict rules around what fund managers can and can’t do with this information as set out in the Privacy Act 1993.
 
Withdrawing funds from KiwiSaver at age 65 is not a simple process - as many readers have experienced. It is important that the funds are paid out to the correct person, hence the need to verify your identity and bank account details. With the introduction of the Anti Money Laundering and Counter Financing of Terrorism Act, the requirements for proving that you are who you are have become more stringent. A certified copy of your passport (or firearms licence) is the easiest to provide, but if you do not have either of these then you will have to supply two certified copies of ID such as a drivers licence and birth certificate. You will also need to provide proof of your residential address with a copy of a bank statement, power bill, home phone bill or IRD statement less than 3 months old. 
 
KiwiSaver members who join after 30 June 2013 are required to supply this information to the fund manager on signing up and as long as evidence of any changes have been supplied, then they will not have to re-supply all the evidence at age 65. 
 
I asked Vedrun Babic, Operations Manager at Fisher Funds Management, for their company policy on handling personal information. He replied, “Your personal information is stored securely in accordance with the Privacy Act. At all times, you have the right to access all personal information held about you and if any of the information is incorrect, you have the right to have it corrected. You can also request the name and address of any other entity to which information has been disclosed. All records for tax purposes must be held for 7 years from the date you cease to become an investor. After that period, they must be destroyed unless there’s a valid business reason to keep them.”
 
Remember that you are not obliged to close your KiwiSaver account at age 65 – you can keep it going and even add to it as long as you wish. You will see that the withdrawal form requires a statutory declaration before a JP or other person authorised to take statutory declarations. Rather than making occasional lump sum withdrawals which would require you to fill out a new form in front of a JP each time, it may be easier to set up a regular withdrawal of say $500 per month. It is worth getting hold of a withdrawal form and finding out how to go about it well before the money is needed.
 
 
Shelley Hanna is an Authorised Financial Adviser FSP12241. Her disclosure statement is available on request and free of charge by calling 870 3838. The information contained in this article is of a general nature and is not intended to provide personalised advice. Send your KiwiSaver questions to shelley.hanna@peak.net.nz. You can read earlier columns at www.peak.net.nz