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How to trace old pensions

Chris Torney / 22 April 2020

Changed job? Moved house? It's easy to lose track of old company pensions. We explain how you can trace old pensions to ensure you're not missing out on your pension pot.

Jigsaw puzzle made from a twenty pound note
Around £5 billion is thought to be sitting in unclaimed pensions in the UK

It is thought that around £19 billion is thought to be sitting in unclaimed pensions in the UK. With more of us changing jobs regularly throughout our working lives, it has become harder to keep track of old company pensions.

This is particularly the case for people who have moved home and whose pension providers no longer have their correct contact details. With the disappearance of the job-for-life and more and more people are moving jobs several times throughout their working life and accruing multiple pension pots along the way it can be all too easy to lose drack of the pension funds you've built up.

So how can you go about tracing any pension schemes that you have paid into at some point in the past? The good news is that, with a bit of effort, you can track down money lying in old pensions. Here's our guide to tracking down what is rightfully yours...

Read our guide to switching pension providers

Get in touch with old employers

If your forgotten pension scheme was run by a company you worked for, you should contact them first. In some cases, individuals may not have been aware they were actually paying into a pension, especially if no monthly salary deductions were being made.

You’ll need to provide information, such as your national insurance number, as well as the dates you worked there.

Contact pension providers

Even if your pension was linked to your job, it may have been run on your employer’s behalf by a pension firm, such as Aviva (formerly Norwich Union), Prudential or Legal & General.

In this case, you should get in touch with the provider rather than your old company.

The same applies if you set up your own personal or stakeholder pension, for example. The Pensions Advisory Service, which is sponsored by the Department for Work and Pensions, can also help you look for a personal pension.

You'll need to provide information about the name of your old employer or pension provider, and potentially further information such as the dates you worked at the company and your National Insurance number.

Use the Pension Tracing Service

An alternative way of tracking down a lost workplace or personal pension is by using the Pension Tracing Service. This is a free government scheme which can be accessed via the government website.

Again, you will need to provide as much information as possible about yourself and the dates you were a member of any scheme.

Stick to official services

Be warned though: from time to time, businesses are set up to offer similar tracking services to people who have lost pensions. Although they not necessarily doing anything illegal and often offer assistance for free, they may try to give the impression that they are official services.

In fact, they could be trying to obtain the personal information of people who have substantial pension savings so they can persuade these individuals to make investments or pay for financial advice, for example.

To reduce the risk of losing track of a pension in future, ensure you let providers know whenever you change your home address or any other details, such as your email address.

Visit our Pension section for more information on funding your retirement

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The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.