Could you have money sitting in lost or forgotten accounts?

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November 01, 2023

The cost-of-living crisis is hitting many of us hard, no matter how well off we might be. But there are many people who have money sitting in lost bank or building society accounts, pensions or investments who could reclaim it to help them meet their financial demands.

In fact, Gretel, one of the services that helps to reunite this money with its rightful owners, estimates that as much as £78 billion could be sitting unclaimed in lost, forgotten, or dormant accounts that could instead be in your pocket. The lion’s share of this is in unclaimed pensions, with this money alone estimated at between £27 billion and £65 billion.

If you think you could be one of the estimated 21m people in the UK with forgotten or lost money waiting to be claimed, then you should take action to recover that money. 

How can people ‘lose’ this money?

It may seem odd that people can just lose their funds, but whenever you move house or changes jobs, if you don’t keep all the relevant organisations informed of these changes, there is a chance that you will no longer be contacted about accounts you may have and can lose track.

For example, you may have had a pension with a company you worked for when you first left school but may not have realised it. Or now you are automatically enrolled in a pension when you join a new business unless you opt out, you may have pensions you’ve forgotten about because you didn’t need to make any active decisions to join them.

No matter how these funds get lost or forgotten, you need to make sure you have this money working for you rather than sitting with the banks, building societies or fund managers.

How to find your lost accounts

No matter how you choose to find lost accounts, investments, pensions, or life insurance policies, remember one thing – you don’t have to pay to do this. There are various ways you can do this for free. If you know the type of product you have lost, then you can go directly to an organisation that deals with that. A good example is the Government’s Pension Tracing Service for anyone who believes they have a pension sitting somewhere that they have not yet claimed.

If you think you have investment funds that you have lost or forgotten, then you can contact the Investment Association and it will check for unclaimed assets. This can cover everything from funds you may have lost, to bank accounts and even forgotten shares.

Is there one place where I can search for everything?

If you prefer to find everything in one place, then you can use the free service offered by Gretel – which is also responsible for running some of the other services in the background. 

Using Gretel, you can find everything from pensions, lost bank and building society accounts, lost life insurance policies, forgotten shares, lost investment funds, and lost Child Trust Funds (CTFs). With the average balance of a CTF at £2,175, it is well worth any 18-year-old who has one making sure they lay their hands on the money.

Remember too that while you can search for your own lost or forgotten accounts, it is also possible for executors of a will, for example, to do a search in case any part of the deceased’s estate was not completed because funds had been missed. This is especially useful for life insurance policies that may be outstanding and can be given to the beneficiaries.

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