Unclaimed premium bond prizes reach £44 million
Over £44 million worth of premium bond prizes are sitting unclaimed, according to National Savings & Investments (NS&I).
The government-backed bank has now launched a nationwide search to track down the winners of 898,000 unclaimed prizes, some dating back decades.
Premium Bond winnings often go unclaimed if bond-holders move address and fail to keep NS&I informed of their whereabouts. Some people simply lose track of their bond numbers – especially if they were bought bonds as a child.
The organisation said that one woman from London is still due to receive £100,000 after failing to claim her prize in a previous draw. She has just £25 invested in Premium Bonds and the prize was won in February 2007.
But because there is no time limit for claiming prizes, each unclaimed prize is held by NS&I until the winner can be tracked down. The oldest unclaimed prize dates back to November 1957, when a male in South Yorkshire won £25. He is still to claim it.
Jill Waters, NS&I's Operations Manager, said: "It is likely that the winner of the £100,000 prize is unaware or she has forgotten that she has Premium Bonds. Prizes often become unclaimed as a result of people moving house, or forgetting that Bonds have been bought for them as a child, or executors are unaware the Bonds are held when someone dies.
"By opting to manage your Premium Bonds online you could reduce the risk of missing out on prizes as they can be paid directly into your bank account."
Over a third of the UK population have invested over £45 billion in Premium Bonds. While they do not pay interest, the tax-free annual prize fund interest rate works out at about 1.5%.
How to check if you have won a prize
- Visit nsandi.com and click on the Premium Bonds prize checker on the home page.
- Enter your Premium Bond holder's number into the search facility.
- Alternatively, write to NS&I, quoting your name and address, any former names and addresses, date of birth and, if known, your Premium Bond holder's number.
- Consider opting to manage your Premium Bonds online – you can reduce the risk of missing out on prizes as they can be paid directly into your bank account.
A form of National Savings Certificate, premium bonds are effectively gilt-edged securities: you loan your money to the government and, in return, it pays you for the privilege with a guarantee it will return your capital at a specified date. Where premium bonds differ is that the interest payments (currently 1.5%) are pooled and paid out as prize money and you can get your cash back within a fortnight, with no risk. Launched by Chancellor of the Exchequer Harold Macmillan in his 1956 Budget, every single £1 unit has the same chance of winning and in May 2011, 1,772,482 winners (from a total draw of 42,539,589,993 eligible bond numbers) shared £53,174,500. The odds of winning are 24,000 to 1 and the maximum holding is £30,000 per person but it remains the only punt in which you can perpetually recycle your stake money.