How to track down lost money

Wanting to find lost money in a bank account, pension or even investments? Here's everything you need to know.

Find lost money with your name on it
Find lost money with your name on it
(Image credit: getty images)

 

As much as £77bn of lost money could be sitting around, unclaimed, in lost or forgotten pension pots, investments and savings accounts. 

Most people often lose track when they move home, jobs or if the bank changes its name. If you think you may have money you have forgotten about, then here’s everything you need to know to get it back.

Lost money in old bank and building society accounts

 Around £850m of unclaimed cash is in bank and building societies, according to the Money Advice Service. It’s easy to check online for old accounts using My Lost Account. The free service covers all UK building societies and over 30 banks and can even help you trace lost accounts from financial institutions that no longer exist.

Following your initial inquiry, you should get a response within three months. If there is any dispute over your claim, you can appeal firstly via the bank and, if that fails, you can take your complaint to the Financial Ombudsman.

Premium bonds

 If you’ve ever held National Savings & Investments (NS&I) premium bonds, then it’s worth checking in to see if you are a prize winner - you could even be one of the million pound jackpot winners. According to NS&I, more than £60m in 1.5 million premium bonds prizes sit unclaimed. It also has £400m sitting in dormant savings accounts.

To see if you are a prize winner, go to NS&I’s prize checker tool https://www.nsandi.com/prize-checker. Not sure if you have an account with NS&I? Then use the  My Lost Account service. 

For bonds that are more than 30 years old, you will need to write to NS&I to ask for the holder's number associated with them. 

 Lost pension pots

 With more of us frequently changing jobs, lost pensions are increasingly common.

According to the government’s pension tracing service, £5bn is sitting inside forgotten pension schemes. 

Most pension  pots end up being ‘lost’ when people move home or change their name, but do not tell a past pension provider. 

If that’s you, then write to your past pension provider and update them with your new details. If you no longer have the details or are not sure if you had a pension with your past employer, you can use The Pension Tracing Service for free, which has the details of over 200,000 pension schemes. The Pensions Advisory Service can also help you find your pensions without a charge. 

 Investments

 If you think you might have investments but you can’t locate your share certificates, you can apply directly to any or all of the three main company registrars – Capita, Computershare and Equiniti - to have them replaced for a fee. Even if you aren’t entirely sure that you hold shares, you can get them to search their records for free. 

You can head to the Investment Association for help in tracing lost unit trusts, while the Association of Investment Companies might also be able to assist you in getting back lost investment trust funds.

 Lost insurance policies

 An estimated £2bn is sitting in unclaimed life insurance according to Unclaimed Assets UK. Given that these policies can be held for many years, it is not a surprise that they can be easily forgotten. To find out if a loved one had life insurance, the first step would be to go through old bank statements, contact their financial advisors or solicitors, or past employers.

You could pay £25 to the Unclaimed Assets Register, which will look through all the companies signed up to the register to help you find any insurance policies, lost pensions or shareholdings you may have. If they uncover any of your lost accounts, they will give you the provider’s details but it’s up to you to take the next step to get your money back.

 Child Trust Funds

 Children born between 1 September 2002 and 2 January 2011 were given tax-free savings products known as Child Trust Funds. These are now closed to new savers. To give a financial leg up to each fund, the government gave each child between £250 and £500 each. However over one million such bonuses have not been claimed, meaning as much as £1bn could be lost. You can submit a request on behalf of your child via GOV.UK to see if money is owed to them. 

 Overpaid energy money

 If you pay your energy by direct debit, you can easily over or underpay - which is why it is important to give regular meter readings. If you have paid more money to your supplier than the energy you have used, then they owe you money. If your account is live, then you can ask your supplier to refund you at any time. For a closed account, the regulator Ofgem has implemented strict rules stating that suppliers have six weeks to send you your final bill and 10 days after that to pay you any outstanding amount or you should be compensated. If you have moved home, contact your supplier if you haven’t received anything.

 Lottery wins

 There are almost £12m in unclaimed National Lottery prizes. The race is on, however, as prizes have to be claimed within 180 days after which time the money goes to charity. Head to the National Lottery website to see if you have won.