Five Unlikely Places You Can Find Unclaimed Money
Unclaimed money can often manifest itself in unexpected forms, which has given people the impression of ‘shape shifting.’ Lost money can hide in the dark corners and hidden crevices of your financial accounts. So, knowing the right places to dig is key to discovering where the lost assets are buried.
Discovering unclaimed money can be referred to a ‘blessing in disguise,’ but it’s important to focus on the positives. The morale of the story is that you have been reconnected with the missing money that is rightfully yours.
We have outlined five hiding spots where lost money could be concealed in your personal finances:
It’s a common misconception that premium bonds hold only small amounts, with little returns. Unclaimed pension bond prizes occupy around £44 million in the UK. The largest unclaimed prize to date is £25,000, which dates back to a draw in 1991.
Premium bond prize winners are generally notified by letter or a personal visit – both of which require a current address. Understandably, many prizes are unclaimed due to the age-old problem of recipients changing address and failing to notify NS&I.
Amongst the chaos of moving house, the tiny detail of formally changing address can be easy to slip your mind. Remembering to stay on top of this is the easiest way of preventing money slipping through the cracks of your accounts.
Bank and Building Society Accounts
A predicted £400 million has been lost in bank and building society accounts. This equates to one of the largest sources of lost assets on this list. This hefty sum is made up of funds which are held in over 500 banks, over a 100 year period.
Bank accounts can become unclaimed for an array of reasons. The most common is the account holder forgetting its existence and leaving the account dormant for months, even years.
Another factor is when account holders pass away without writing a will. This makes it extremely challenging for anybody entitled to inherit their share from the account. This is because there is no proof that the money belongs to them. This can occur if you’ve been left money by a partner, close family member or distant relative.
Similarly to bank accounts, one of the biggest obstacles banks face is the failure of account holders to notify them of a change in address. If the bank cannot contact you about your account, they categorize you as a missing, or ‘gone away’ customer.
Savings and Investment Accounts
Hundreds of millions of pounds of lost assets are trapped within dormant savings accounts in NS&I alone. The highest amount of NS&I‘s unclaimed funds are held in investment accounts and fixed interest savings accounts – adding up to over £600 million.
If you include international banks, this figure rises into the billions.
The explanation behind savings and investment accounts going ‘missing’ are very comparable to bank accounts. However, for the financial companies holding savings accounts, there are additional problems.
Each bank or financial company offers a huge variety of different savings accounts, sometimes leading into the hundreds. Understandably, they can make it even harder for the financial company to track which pot of unclaimed money belongs where, and to whom.
Stocks and Shares
Statistics indicate that there is at least £12 billion in shares from privatised companies, which has never been claimed. This figure also includes any dividends (annual sums) that the company was due to pay the shareholder from its profits.
The old system of share certificates, rather than holding shares through nominees like nowadays, meant that shareholders simply ‘disappeared’ if they moved and forgot to give their forwarding address.
In the present day, this has left thousands of people out of touch with their shares in companies. Whether your share was in a large corporation or a small start-up, you still possess the same right to be reunited with the shares that are owed to you.
Life Insurance and Pensions
At an estimated £400 million, unclaimed life insurance and pensions account for one of the largest portions of unclaimed money in the UK.
Although there is no exact figure, there could be as many as 5.5 million pension records that hold uncollected money. These uncollected pensions can be traced to financial companies of all sizes.
Just like other types of financial accounts, forgetting to notify of a new address is a huge problem. Forgetfulness can play a massive role in individuals becoming unattached from their pensions. A common trait of getting older can often be losing your memory, and in this complex and difficult process, many pensioners can forget to claim pension money which is owed to them.
Something which has further exacerbated the problem of unclaimed pensions is the popularisation of company pension schemes. Research by Equiniti has suggested that the average person will have at least six jobs in their lifetime.
When a person leaves one job for another, it can be especially easy to forget you are owed money from an old company pension pot, particularly if you are not yet at a pension age.
Keeping on top of your pensions in your current and previous companies is crucial to ensure you’re on top of your ever-changing finances.
With a varied assemblage of possible sources, finding lost money can sometimes feel like an impossible game of ‘Where’s Wally?’ However, you are not alone and there are resources that you can use to help you in your search.
We stress the importance of informing your bank, building society or financial company if you change address.
Despite being a seemingly negative situation, it is encouraging to know that something so easy could ensure you will never lose touch with your money again.
Josh Cousens – Monimine.