As the cost of living crisis goes from bad to worse, new research has revealed that Britons could have up to £50billion in inactive or dormant accounts.
There are about 20 million people with unclaimed money in forgotten pensions, bank accounts, savings and investments, according to Gretel, a website that tracks people’s lost money.
If correct, that £50billion figure could equate to an average of £2,500 for every Brit who has lost track of an old account.
Forgot something? Up to £50billion of Britons’ money is thought to be sitting idle in lost or dormant accounts
Gretel estimates there are between £19 billion and £37 billion in missing or unclaimed pensions, £4.5 billion in lost bank accounts, £2.8 billion in forgotten investments and £2 billion sterling of unclaimed life insurance policies.
It is estimated that one in four pensions is currently missing or unclaimed, according to Gretel.
There are many reasons why someone may lose track of a pension. This can usually happen when someone changes jobs and forgets about a pension plan with a previous employer.
The average person changes jobs 11 times. These moves, combined with a lack of financial experience in a person’s early years, can mean people lose track of what they received and when.
Major life changes, such as moving house, marriage, divorce, and loss of a loved one, can also lead to loss of pension.
Forgotten bank accounts are also a major source of lost money in the UK.
With over 150million bank and building society accounts, it is perhaps unsurprising to some that there is £4.5billion hidden away in forgotten accounts.
Moved on: There are many reasons people lose touch with their savings accounts, but the most common cause is a change of address.
There are many reasons why people lose contact with their bank or savings accounts, but the most common cause is a change of address.
Banks, building societies and NS&Is are looking to stay in touch with their customers and will contact a customer if an account has been inactive for an extended period.
If no response is received, the bank, building society or NS&I will stop sending correspondence and classify the account as “lost”.
However, sometimes it can be because someone switched bank accounts without closing their old account – which then continued to earn interest.
Secondary bank accounts can also be forgotten during major life events, while there are also instances where someone else – such as a parent or spouse – has opened an account in someone else’s name. and this ultimately led to his undoing.
How to find the lost money?
Organizations that hold lost money are often hampered by not having the correct information on how to contact the owner.
It could be due to a move they forgot to tell them about, or a name change, or any number of other reasons that make it harder to find someone.
Experian Unclaimed Assets Registry was often the first port of call for many people looking for lost or unclaimed accounts. However, the service closes from August 31.
With just three weeks to go until the service is shut down, it’s unclear what the banks, pension funds, insurers and investment firms that have teamed up will do to help their customers move forward.
Duncan Stevens, chief executive of Gretel, said: “We are at a time when consumers are facing a cost of living crisis and the number of people considered vulnerable continues to rise.”
‘Coupled with this, one of the main vehicles for them to regain their lost assets – valued at £50billion – is set to close in a matter of weeks, with no alternative arrangements apparently being put in place by providers. previously using the service.
“The need to get the billions of lost and unclaimed money from savings, investments and pensions back into the hands of the consumer, where they belong, is more important than ever.”
Money Finding Services You Can Use
Gretel is offering a new route for Britons to recover lost or unclaimed assets, having taken its dashboard online in April this year.
Gretel searches companies and administrators, using its technology to query their records and retrieve all matches on behalf of its users.
Once someone has registered with Gretel, the service will continue to work with them to track lost money and report any new accounts as they are identified.
Gretel claims to be the only service that will cover the entire financial services industry, however, as it is still in its infancy, it is still expanding its coverage.
It continues to add new financial organizations to its search database and whenever it does, Gretel will notify customers of any results.
Discovery: My Lost Account can help people find their forgotten savings
For anyone who has lost contact with their bank, building society, or national savings and investment account, this could be a good option.
This service covers over 30 banks, all 43 UK building societies and the full range of National Savings & Investments (NS&I) products.
This is a free service bringing together the three tracing programs of UK Finance, the Building Societies Association and NS&I on one website.
This means that anyone with a lost account with a bank, building society, NS&I – or all three – can start a search simply by visiting this website and filling out an application form.
The information provided via the request form is transmitted to the institutions likely to hold the lost account.
The institutions contacted will then conduct a search for their lost accounts and the applicant will be notified if any account they hold matches the details submitted online.
This service allows people to find contact details to search for a lost pension.
He can reveal details of someone’s workplace or personal pension plan, or someone else’s plan if he has his permission.
However, he cannot tell someone whether or not he has a pension, or what its value is.
They will need the name of an employer or pension organization to use this service, so some memory is required.
Find a Children’s Trust Fund
British teenagers and their parents left £374million in trust funds for mature children in the seven months after the first youngsters were allowed to withdraw their money, according to the latest figures from HMRC.
More than six million children’s trust funds have been created for children born between September 1, 2002 and January 2, 2011, with children starting at 18 eligible to access the money.
Between September 2020, when the first accounts matured, and April 2021, £393m was withdrawn, leaving £374m unclaimed.
You don’t necessarily need to know your provider to know where a Child Trust Fund is.
You will need to complete an online form to ask HMRC where the account was originally opened – although you will need to create a Government Gateway username and password if you don’t already have one.
Any parent looking for a CTF they have set up will need the child’s Unique Reference Number, which can be found on the annual CTF statement, or their child’s National Insurance Number.
If you are looking for your own trust fund, you will need your national insurance number to hand.
An easier way for 16-18 year olds to potentially find their account is through a charity the Sharing Foundation.
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