How to trace lost money
In the UK millions of pounds lie unclaimed in inactive accounts. It's free and easy to check if you have any dormant bank accounts, insurance policies, pensions or premium bonds, so if you think you may have a lost account it's definitely worth finding out.
- How can an account become lost?
- How do I track down lost money in bank accounts or savings?
- How do I trace lost pensions?
- How do I trace lost stocks or shares?
- How do I track down lost insurance policies or accounts with Friendly Societies?
- How do I find lost premium bonds?
- How can I keep track of all my financial accounts?
- Can I track down lost accounts on behalf of someone else?
- Are there services that can search for all types of accounts?
- What should I do now?
How can an account become lost?
It’s easy to lose touch with one or more of your accounts. Perhaps you’ve moved addresses or you may have had an account opened for you as a child that you’ve forgotten about.
An account can be lost or marked as ‘inactive’ if:
- a financial institution hasn’t been able to contact you – most commonly because you’ve changed addresses and haven’t notified them of your new address
- there has been no activity on your account for a few years (such as deposits or withdrawals)
Even if an account has been marked inactive for several years, the money in it is still yours and you are entitled to claim it at any time.
How do I track down lost money in bank accounts or savings?
In this video Jane Vass from Age UK explains how you can find lost money and get help with claiming. In the second half of the video Ian from London explains how easy it was to claim his lost premium bonds.
The My Lost Account service will search for lost accounts and savings from banks, building societies and National Savings and Investments (NS&I). This service is a joint venture by the British Bankers’ Association, the Building Societies Association and NS&I. It can take up to 3 months for companies to complete their search.
If you know which bank or building society held your account/s, contact them and ask how you can make a claim. They may also have paper forms available.
How do I trace lost pensions?
Alternatively, you can call the Pension Tracing Service on 0800 731 0193 to find contact details for an employer or personal pension scheme. You can then contact them to find out if you have a lost pension.
How do I trace lost stocks or shares?
Companies are constantly evolving with mergers, takeovers or rebranding. This makes it difficult for shareholders to keep track of their investments.
You’ll need to contact companies directly. Companies keep records of all their shareholders and dividends and can issue new certificates.
If you don’t have any contact details, contact one of the main share registrars who can give you information about a company’s history and current contact details:
How do I track down lost insurance policies or accounts with Friendly Societies?
Here are some options for finding lost insurance policies:
- Approach the company directly. If you can’t find the company’s contact details then contact their trade association.
- Contact the Association of British Insurers for up-to-date contact information for life insurance companies.
How do I find lost premium bonds?
How can I keep track of all my financial accounts?
A good way to keep track of all your financial accounts is to make a list of the accounts and policies you have now. Make sure you keep all important paperwork in one place so you can easily find information and contact details when you need it in future.
Can I track down lost accounts on behalf of someone else?
You can only ask for a search to be done to track down someone else’s lost accounts, if you are legally entitled to act on their behalf, for example under a Power of Attorney or as an Executor. If you want to ask for a trace for more than one person, you’ll need to make a separate application for each one.
You should contact the relevant organisation listed above for more information, depending on what it is you’re tracking to track down. For example, the British Bankers Association has a leaflet called ‘Dealing with deceased relatives’ banking affairs.’
Are there services that can search for all types of accounts?
Gretel is a new service that launched in April 2022. It searches for all types of financial assets, including lost accounts, pensions, and investments. It's a completely free service, so it doesn't take a commission from the money it finds.
As Gretel is new, the financial institution that your money, account or investment is with may not be signed up to the service yet, so Gretel might not be able to find it at this time. However, new financial institutions are being added to the service all the time and Gretel will continue to search for your assets every two weeks - or until you ask it to stop. So if it doesn’t find your pension straight away, it may find it in the future.
When you sign up to Gretel it uses a soft search on your credit file to identify you, and match you with previous addresses. This won’t affect your credit score.