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Millions won, millions lost

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: September 01, 2012

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While Mr and Mrs Bayford are celebrating their truly massive Euromillions win, it may not be necessary for you to buy a ticket to find yourself with some extra money.

It is likely that most of us have experienced the over-exaggerated excitement of finding a £10 or £20 note in our possession that we had forgotten we had. Because it was not expected to be there, it feels like it is worth more than it is, even though the monetary value has not changed!

Imagine how this would be magnified if it was several hundred pounds, or even several thousand pounds!

NS&I have said that almost eight million people have savings accounts and investments which they have lost track of, while 40% of these people have not tried to reunite themselves with their savings. It is estimated that there could be up to £350 million in old bank accounts alone.

In fact it is so much, the Government has its own plans for the cash. It was announced last April that any assets over 15 years old will go into a "Big Society" fund for social and community causes.

So how do you know if you (or indeed a deceased relative) has a lost asset or not? The fact is you may not, given that savings accounts for example are classed as "dormant" only after the bank fails to track you down at your last known address.

The amount of time varies depending on the bank and the product; in general though current accounts are deemed "lost" after about 12 months of no use, while savings accounts can be left for three to five years.

It should be noted there are a growing market of companies that offer to track down your old assets for a fee. The reality is it is relatively easy to take such steps yourself, and so I would advise against handing money over. Depending on the type of product your assets are in, a selection of organisations provide facilities to help search for unclaimed assets:

British Bankers Association: 020 7216 8909

Building Societies Association: 0207 520 5900

National Savings & Investments: 0500 007 007

Investment Management Association (for collective investments): 0207 831 0898

The Pensions Service: 0845 6002 537

If you think you have unclaimed assets, it would be worth investing some time to investigate further.

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