Have you ever pulled on an old pair of jeans and found some long-forgotten cash in one of the pockets? Imagine that feeling, then multiply it by ten if the same happens with bank accounts or pension pots.
The Money Advice Service claims there is an estimated £850 million sitting unclaimed or lost across thousands of accounts.
If an account, whether that's savings or current, has been inactive for a long period of time, the bank or building society will contact the customer asking whether they would like the account to remain accessible. If no correspondence is received, the account will be classed as lost to reduce the risk of fraud by potentially sending out account details to an old address.
Just like that £5 found in your jeans, the money lost in this account is yours by law. It may be worth very little, or may be worth a small fortune, but here's how to search and find out.
First things first, talk to the bank or building society where you believe you may have an account. If the bank believes it has up to date contact information for you, even if it's incorrect, it won't have classed the account as lost.
If you can't remember where you held an account, My Lost Account is a free service operated by the British Bankers' Association, Building Societies Association and National Savings and Investments. It covers over 30 banks, all UK building societies and the full range of national savings and investments products, as well as a select number of foreign banks, and can help if the provider has since closed or merged.
This service is for personal accounts only and will not work for business or charity accounts – for these, you will need to know the name of the bank or building society and contact them directly.
It's good practice to keep in contact with pension providers, as your ability to claim when you retire may be affected. However, as with bank accounts, if you know who you potentially held a pension with, start by contacting them. Or, if it was a company pension scheme, your former employer may be able to help. The GOV.UK website can assist in finding the correct contact details for company and personal pension providers.
Credit report business Experian operates the Unclaimed Assets Register, which can help you trace a lost pension and will pass on contact details if a match is found. However, be aware this is not a free service and you will be charged a small fee.
For personal pensions, the Pension Advisory Service offers a free to use tool which will guide you and offer advice on the best organisations to contact.
If a close family member has passed away without taking their pension, or you believe they may have money in a lost account, you could be eligible to make a claim. The bank, building society or pension supplier will work to confirm your identity and ensure any money is passed onto the right person.
Our friendly and dedicated team are always on hand to help and offer advice. Please don't hesitate to get in touch with your local Perrys branch.