Recover your lost money
The Government's Dormant Account Scheme is aimed at reuniting forgotten cash with its owners, but banks and building societies are also stepping up their efforts to help.
But it's worth tracking it down yourself if you think some of this 'lost' money could be yours. Here's how to go about it.
What is a dormant account?
An account is classed as dormant when no transactions have been carried out for a prolonged period (usually 12 months, but sometimes as long as three years) or if statements or other official correspondence are repeatedly returned as undeliverable. The balance is then transferred to a reserve account.
Millions going unclaimed
In addition to funds in forgotten current and savings accounts, there's an estimated £1 billion in unclaimed life insurance; £3 billion in pension policies; £3 billion in shares and dividends and £300 million in unclaimed lottery wins.
Locate the missing cash
If you think you or a deceased relative has unclaimed money, the first step is to contact the provider concerned. The more information you have the better, so have to hand the policy or account details, the account holder name and previous addresses.
Use an account tracing service
If you cannot find the company, perhaps because it has since merged, been taken over or changed its name - or you can't remember where the account was held - contact the British Bankers Association (bba.org.uk), Building Societies Association or National Savings and Investments, which all operate free tracing services.
How to trace 'lost' policies
For insurance plans, old pensions or lost shares, try the Unclaimed Assets Registry. It holds data for about 80% of UK life insurers, 17 occupational pension schemes, eight unit trust companies and 20 FSTE 100 companies. The Government's Pension Service also runs a tracing service to help track down occupational pensions.
A collective investment vehicle (known in the US as a “mutual” or “pooled” fund) and similar to an Oeic and investment trust in that it manages financial securities on behalf of small investors who, by investing, pool their resources giving combined benefits of diversification and economies of scale. Investors buy “units” in the fund that have a proportional exposure to all the assets in the fund, and are bought and sold from the fund manager. The price of units is determined by the value of the assets in the fund and will rise or fall in line with the value of those assets. Like Oeics (but unlike investment trusts) unit trusts and are “open ended” funds, meaning that the size of each fund can vary according to supply and demand of the units form investors. Unit trusts have two prices; the higher “offer” price you pay to invest and the “bid” price, which is the lower price you receive when you sell. The difference between the two prices is commonly known as the bid/offer spread.
Generally thought of as being interchangeable with life assurance, but isn’t. Life insurance insures you for a specific period of time, at a premium fixed by your age, health and the amount the life is insured for. If you die while the policy is in force, the insurance company pays the claim. However, if you survive to the end of the term or cease paying the premiums, the policy is finished and has no remaining value whatsoever as it only has any value if you have a claim. For this reason, life insurance is much cheaper than life assurance (also called whole of life).