Lost savings: How to find out if you’re sitting on a hidden windfall

(PA Wire)

FEELING a bit short of cash with Christmas coming up? You may be richer than you think – as many people are sitting on savings pots they’ve long forgotten about.

While the idea of a windfall suddenly appearing out of nowhere may seem far-fetched, it’s actually thought that households are sitting on billions of pounds-worth of lost savings. One in seven (14%) of us think we’ve lost track of a financial product, such as a current account, Isa or another type of savings account, premium bonds, or children’s savings, according to a survey from savings provider NS&I.

Meanwhile, calculations released by the Association of British Insurers (ABI) show an estimated 1.6 million lost pension pots worth nearly £20 billion could remain unclaimed.

Here’s a look at why we’re losing track of all this money – and how you could get it back…

Why are we leaving cash scattered?

Forgetting to redirect post if you’ve moved house, or moving jobs could increase the likelihood of forgetting savings accounts or pension pots. With the average person having around 11 different jobs over their lifetime, and moving home eight times, it’s easy to see how paperwork can get lost over time.

NS&I’s research also found that forgetting passwords and log-in codes was a common reason for people losing track of financial products.

Is the problem getting worse?

Millions of new pension savers have been registered since the launch of automatic enrolment back in 2012. While this is helping people boost their retirement funds, more savers could also lead to more pension pots going missing – and it’s estimated there could be as many as 50 million dormant and lost pensions by 2050.

The industry has been working on the development of a pensions dashboard, which will enable people to see all their pension pots in one place online.

How to track down lost savings

There are various ways to track down lost money, depending on the type of financial product. If you know who the provider is, the simplest way may be to contact them directly, digging out any evidence you have such as old policy numbers and addresses.

There are also free-to-use services available which could help. The UK Government has a free pension tracing service. You’ll need the name of an employer or a pension provider to use it.

Or if you’ve lost track of money held with a bank, building society or with NS&I, which is backed by the Treasury, the My Lost Account service could reunite you with your cash.

Anything else to consider?

Scammers may promise large amounts of money or other valuables, and persuade victims to part with their own money as “fees” for their release. In reality, these windfalls don’t exist.

Detective Chief Inspector Alex Hayman, of the City of London Police’s National Fraud Intelligence Bureau, says: “If you are contacted out of the blue by someone you don’t know, who says you are the beneficiary of an unexpected amount of cash, be suspicious and never respond to any communication especially where you are asked to send a sum of money.”