The only thing of real value I’ve ever lost is my wedding ring. I vaguely remember taking it off – I think I was going to do something messy or involving noxious liquids – but I can’t find it. I’m sure one day it will turn up underneath the fridge or somewhere. And if it doesn’t, then it’s sad – but hardly financially crippling.
However, I’ve never mislaid or forgotten money in a savings account or pension. My finances are pretty simple which makes keeping track of them easy. But apparently seven million Britons have money sitting in dormant accounts: ones they haven’t accessed for ages. And the report by National Savings & Investments found that of these 52% had lost track of their money because they’d forgotten their passwords.
And it’s not only money in savings accounts which has been mislaid. There’s a whopping £20 billion in unclaimed pension pots according to research by the Pensions Policy Institute. This amounts to 1.6 million lost pension pots worth on average £13,000 each. Given that these days we all swap jobs and home addresses so often this is understandable. And the Association of British Insurers (which commissioned the report) says that last year they tracked down owners of £1 billion of lost pensions.
While it’s great that action is being taken to find those with lost pensions and accounts, it should be easy to find mislaid money yourself. If you think you might have a long-forgotten bank, building society or National Savings account, you can use the My Lost Account service – see here. The more information you have about your forgotten account, the better. And if you know that you had an account with a bank or building society that’s still around (so many have been swallowed up by others over the years that this may not be the case) then contact it direct first: it could be quicker. If you think you had premium bonds from years ago and might have unclaimed prizes (unlike lottery winnings, premium bond prizes are always claimable: indeed, there are still unclaimed prizes going back to when the draws started in the 1950s) then use the NS&I website here.
For workplace pensions, first write to your former employer asking them if you’re a scheme member. For personal pensions (the sort you take out yourself via insurance companies) go to the company running the scheme – if you don’t know what it’s called any longer (again, there has been lots of consolidation in this industry) check with the FCA register. If you can’t track your pension down these ways, then use the government’s Pension Tracing Service.
And see our guides to pensions here