Losing track of your money seems like an unlikely event, but it’s pretty common. A recent report unveiled there’s 2.8 million missing or lost pensions worth a whopping £26.6 billion. It’s not just pensions, however. There’s an estimated £50 billion sitting in pensions, investments, bank accounts, savings accounts and premium bonds that have been forgotten about.
In this blog we explore where unclaimed money lies and and how to find out if any of it belongs to you.
Since people often move jobs a lot these days, it’s common to have several pension schemes. Pensions often get mislaid, however, when people fail to tell their provider when they move house for instance.
A new report from the Pensions Policy Institute shows that the last four years have seen the number of lost pension pots in the UK surge from 1.6 million to 2.8 million, with these pots now having an estimated collective value of £26.6 billion, up from £19.4 billion in 2018.
Around half of workplace pension holders in the UK have no idea how many pots they hold with previous employers, says a separate study by Scottish Widows. Tracking down every last penny you’ve saved is a worthwhile exercise to give you a clear picture of your finances when it comes to retirement planning. It also means that saving efforts are not in vain.
If you’re having trouble tracking down your old pension, the Government’s free Pension Tracing Service may be able to help. Visit www.gov.uk/find-lost-pension or call 0345 6002 537 for more information.
Once reunited with your pensions, it’s time to weigh up whether your money is working hard, or if it’s better off elsewhere. More people are choosing to move all their pensions to one single lower-cost pension that they can control. Switching to a new scheme could be a false economy if you give up any valuable guarantees or benefits that come as part of the package. Make sure you check what you’re giving up.
Shares & dividends
Estimates say around £3 billion is owed to UK investors from unclaimed shares and dividends. Company mergers, acquisitions and restructurings have increased the amount of lost securities.
You can trace lost shares by approaching the company directly. You can trace other lost shares by contacting the three main share registrars who will search their databases and, if they find you are owed unclaimed dividends, can issue them. Contact Link Asset Services (or 0371664 0300); Computershare; and Equiniti (or 0371 384 2030). They can also reissue lost share certificates – subject to a fee.
The IA Unclaimed Assets Portal powered by Gretel can also help. It will check your details with records from financial services companies looking for customers they have lost touch with. You only have to register once and they will get in touch if there is a match – immediately or in the future.
There are currently over 2 million unclaimed Premium Bond prizes worth £68.7 million. The oldest unclaimed prize is worth £25 and is from the November 1957 prize draw. It belongs to a winner in South Yorkshire.
A £25 prize from May 1970 was repaid in October 2021. And a £100 prize from January 1976 was claimed in March 2021. In total 42 prizes from the 1970s have been repaid in the last two years.
If you think you might have some bonds that you’ve lost touch with but don’t have your Premium Bonds holder number or NS&I number, you can use NS&I’s Tracing Service.
Old bank accounts
There are ways of being reunited with the money sitting in dormant bank accounts. If you remember the bank you had the old account with, you can get in touch direct. If not you can use My Lost Account. This free service covers over 30 banks, all 43 UK building societies and the full range of National Savings & Investments products. The IA Unclaimed Assets Portal can search for money sitting in dormant bank accounts too.
Watch out for companies you might come across online offering to conduct searches on your behalf for a fee. In most cases you shouldn’t need to pay a penny for a search and is easily done yourself by filling in a form or two. If you use a third-party company there’s also a risk it’s a scam.
Photo by Wolfgang Rottmann on Unsplash.com