How to trace lost accounts and share in £50bn of unclaimed assets

Britons have amassed almost £50bn of unclaimed assets in lost accounts. Here’s what to do if you think some of the money may belong to you.

We’re all feeling the pinch as the cost-of-living crisis continues to bite, so there has never been a better time to check whether you own a valuable forgotten asset. Research by tracing service Gretel estimates there is almost £50bn stashed away unclaimed.

Forgotten assets can be in a variety of places, from investments and savings accounts to insurance policies. But the biggest source of forgotten wealth is money in pension funds.

Gretel estimates that £37bn is waiting in lost pensions. No wonder – most of us have switched jobs a few times in our careers, leaving behind workplace pensions. Combine that with a house move and it is easy for pension firms to lose track of us.

Where to start

Tracing lost assets has so far been a relatively simple process, but it’s going to get a lot harder at the end of this month. The Unclaimed Assets Register allows you to search for forgotten pensions, bank accounts, Premium Bonds, investments and insurance policies in one place.

For 20 years it has been used by consumers as well as solicitors looking to trace estates. But the database is operated by credit-reporting group Experian, which has announced it will close on 29 August as “it is no longer a priority for the business”, reports Charlotte Gifford in The Daily Telegraph.

For a £25 fee you can enter the names of people you want to search for, along with numerous past addresses. That information is then matched against 4.5 million records from around 80 financial providers to see if there are any dormant accounts in that name.

But before you part with £25, there are other free ways you can look for lost accounts. It will just take a little more effort as you’ll have to use different resources for different assets.

Policy Detective is a tool for searching for insurance policies. You type in the name of the company that issued your policy and it will give you their up-to-date contact details; it will also tell you if they have been bought by another company. You can get an automatically-generated letter to send to the company, too. Policy Detective will also give you details on banks and building societies.

Another simple way to track down old bank accounts is with My Lost Account. Set up a profile and fill in the search form and it will hunt down old accounts for you. My Lost Account also searches for National Savings & Investment Accounts, including Premium Bonds.

Finally, if you are hoping some of that forgotten £37bn pension fund is yours you can use several different pension-tracing services, including the government’s tracking service. You can find current contact details for your pension provider there, and you will then need to write to them to see if they have an account in your name.

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