The idea of losing track of your savings and investments may sound unlikely, and yet there are currently billions of pounds in “forgotten” accounts.
In fact, figures suggest a huge £15 billion is sitting unclaimed in dormant bank accounts, lost pensions and old life insurance policies.
In some cases, people lose track of accounts when they move house and fail to notify the bank or provider of their new address; in others, individuals simply forget about money they have squirreled away.
The good news is, even if you lost a pension, investment fund or bank account years ago, that money still belongs to you – so it’s well worth spending a little time trying to track it down.
For most people, a nice little windfall could come in very handy.
Seven signs that you need to get on top of your finances.
Track down cash
If you think you have money in a lost or forgotten account, your first port of call should be Mylostaccount.org.uk.
This site is run jointly by the British Bankers’ Association (BBA), Building Societies Association (BSA), and National Savings & Investments (MS&I). Its aim is to reunite people with lost current accounts and savings accounts.
When using the site, the key is to enter as much information as you can into the online form, including previous addresses and names.
Claims can take up to three months, but if your search is successful, it will be well worth the wait.
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Claim a premium bond prize
Over the years, many people have lost track of premium bond prizes. To check if you are owed one, log on to the prize checker tool on the NS&I site. There is no time limit on claiming a premium bond prize.
If you are unsure if you have any premium bonds or other products from NS&I, you can contact NS&I on 0500 007007 or visit Nsandi.com.
Find a pension
As people now change jobs many times during their working lives, building up different pots along the way, it is easy to lose track of workplace pensions.
If you want to find retirement savings, you should try the Government’s free Pension Tracing Service.
Once again, it’s important to fill in as much information as possible to give yourself the best chance of finding a lost savings pot.
Note, however, that the PTS does not cover personal pensions. To find a personal pension, you will need to contact the provider directly.
Read our guide to tracing old pensions.
If you want to trace missing investments, useful starting points include the Investment Association for help locating funds, and the Association of Investment Companies for help finding investment trusts.
Unclaimed Assets Register (UAR)
Another useful tool is the UAR run by credit reference agency, Experian. This covers all types of pension, as well as shares, investment funds and life policies.
But be aware that you will have to pay a fee of £25 to carry out a search.
Do you have old debts that you have forgotten? Could they be affecting your finances now? Find out how to check your credit report here.
Tips to help you stay on top of your finances
- Draw up a list of all your bank accounts, savings, life policies and shares, and keep this in safe place.
- Update this list each time you close accounts or take out a new policy.
- Where possible, arrange to have account statements emailed to you, as that makes it much harder to lose track.
- When moving house, make sure you set up a postal redirection with Royal Mail for 12 months afterwards. That way, correspondence will find its way to you.
For more tips and useful information, browse our money articles.