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%.
NS&I premium bonds – what are your alternatives?
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.