How to find lost shares

Sherlock Holmes © iStockphotos
Some detective work could pay dividends

There could be some money out there with your name on it. Here’s how to track down shares yo may have bought and forgotten about.

It’s hard to imagine forgetting about a stash of money, but it happens more often than you would think. Whether it is a misplaced inheritance, a dormant savings account, or a childhood gift you were never really aware of, there may be some unclaimed money out there that belongs to you. In fact, there is approximately £1bn sitting around in the form of “lost” shares and dividends across the FTSE 100, says Harry Brennan in The Daily Telegraph. And it isn’t going to hang around forever.

Pest-control company Rentokil is hoping to donate £250,000 of dormant shares in the company and unclaimed dividends to charity every year, it said recently. “If the firm cannot make contact with shareholders after 12 years, their stock and dividends will be declared dormant and eventually given to charities,” says Brennan. Rentokil estimates its dormant shares are worth around £1m. If a shareholder makes a claim for their money after it is donated, they will only receive up to £3,500 of what their holding is worth. Anything above that “will be lost forever”.

This is a useful reminder that the rules on unclaimed shares differ from those for bank accounts, where dormant funds can be reclaimed in full at any stage. If you think you may own some forgotten shares, your first stop should be a company’s registrar, assuming you remember which company you have shares in. The three largest share registrars are Equiniti, Capita and Computershare. You can find out which registrar deals with your company by contacting the firm or checking with the London Stock Exchange.

Lost unit-trust holdings can be traced via the Investment Association, and the Association of Investment Companies can help hunt down forgotten investment-trust shares. Meanwhile, the Pension Tracing Service can hunt through 200,000 pension schemes.

For those who don’t know where  to start looking, there is the Unclaimed Asset Register. For a one-off payment of £25 it will search unclaimed share dividends, unit trusts, pensions and life-insurance policies to see if anything belongs to you.

Finally, don’t forget to check for forgotten savings accounts and Premium Bonds via mylostaccount.org.uk. If you have a forgotten Premium Bond, take your holder’s number and tap it into NS&I’s prize checker. There is more than £50m in unclaimed Premium Bond prizes waiting to be snapped up.