There are millions of pounds sitting unclaimed in around half a million inactive accounts and some of it may be yours.
It’s free and pretty simple to check if you have any dormant bank accounts, insurance policies, pensions or premium bonds, so if you think you may have a lost account it’s worth finding out. You could find you have a significant amount of money you didn’t know about.
But first, how does this happen?
Actually, its quite easy to lose track of an account especially if you have moved to a new house or perhaps if the account was set up for you as a child. The account will be deemed as lost or marked as ‘inactive’ if:
- the financial institution hasn’t been able to contact you after a change of address
- there has been no activity (such as deposits or withdrawals) on your account for a few years, but even if an account has been marked inactive for several years, the money is still yours and you can claim it regardless of timescale.
How do I track down lost money in bank accounts or savings?
The My Lost Account service searches for lost accounts and savings from banks, building societies and National Savings and Investments (NS&I). This service is run jointly by the British Bankers’ Association, the Building Societies Association and NS&I and it can take up to 3 months for companies to complete their search.
You simply need to complete an online application form at www.mylostaccount.org.uk
If you know which bank or building society held your account/s, contact them and ask how you can make a claim. They may also have paper forms available.
How do I trace lost pensions?
Use the GOV.UK Pension Tracing Service online tool at – www.gov.uk/find-pension-contact-details
Alternatively, you can call the Pension Tracing Service on 0800 731 0193 to find contact details for an employer or personal pension scheme. You can then contact them to find out if you have a lost pension.
How can I find out all the pensions schemes I’ve paid into?
It can be tricky to keep on top of all the pension schemes you’ve paid into throughout your working career. But The Pension Tracing Service is there to help. It’s a free service and can help you trace a pension you’ve lost track of – even if you don’t have the contact details of the pension provider.
It will be helpful to collect as much information as you can before contacting the Pension Tracing Service, so start by looking for:
- the name of your previous employer or pension service (you will need this to get started)
- any previous names it had
- the type of business it ran
- whether it changed address
- when you belonged to the scheme
The Pension Tracing Service will only tell you the contact details of the pension’s administrator, and you will then need to make contact with the pension administrator to find out whether you have a pension, what value it is, and to find out what options you have.
Lost stocks or shares?
Companies are constantly evolving with mergers, takeovers or rebranding. This makes it difficult for shareholders to keep track of their investments.
You’ll need to contact companies directly. Companies keep records of all their shareholders and dividends and can issue new certificates. If you don’t have any contact details, contact one of the main share registrars who can give you information about a company’s history and current contact details:
How do I track down Friendly Society lost insurance policies or accounts?
Well, here are a few actions that you can take
- Approach the company directly. If you can’t find the company’s contact details, then contact their trade association.
- Contact the Association of Financial Mutualswho represent mutual insurers and friendly societies and can share their contact details with you.
- Contact the Association of British Insurersfor up-to-date contact information for life insurance companies.
- Use a tracing service, such as the Unclaimed Assets Register, although they will charge a small fee.
And what about lost premium bonds?
Finally, tracking down lost accounts on behalf of someone else
You can only ask for a search for someone else’s lost accounts if you are legally entitled to act on their behalf. Examples would be if you are acting under a Power of Attorney or as an Executor. If you want to ask for a trace for more than one person, you’ll need to make a separate application for each one.
You should contact the relevant organisation listed above for more information, depending on what it is you’re tracking to track down. For example, the British Bankers Association has a leaflet called ‘Dealing with deceased relatives’ banking affairs.’
So, don’t be put off, there is lots of help out there, and good luck, you may be better off as a result.