8 ways to track down forgotten cash including energy bill refunds and lost pensions
IF you’re strapped for cash, we’ve rounded up eight ways to find forgotten or lost money that you could be owed.
Savers are being urged to track down their money as the government has confirmed an expansion of its dormant assets scheme.
Under the scheme, current accounts and savings accounts that haven't been touched in 15 years can be raided for cash to spend on good causes in local communities.
An estimated £745million in dormant current and savings accounts has been accessed since 2011 alone.
But the scheme is now expanding to include insurance, pensions and investments to help boost UK finances during the coronavirus pandemic.
The government claims the expansion could unlock more than £800million in lost funds.
What is the dormant assets scheme?
THE dormant assets scheme is being expanded to include insurance, pensions and investments.
At the moment, the scheme only covers old current and savings accounts.
Through the initiative, the government accesses money from accounts that haven't been touched in 15 years and puts the cash towards good causes in local communities.
But companies still have to contact the owners of the money first before they hand over the cash to the government.
If your money has already been transferred, you can claim it back.
Ministers say the scheme has been expanded to help more people cope financially during the coronavirus crisis.
However, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport wasn't able to tell The Sun when the extension would happen.
The expansion will need to be heard in Parliament first before it becomes official.
Oliver Dowden, secretary of state for digital, culture, media and sport, said: "Funds raised through the existing dormant assets scheme have already made a huge difference to vulnerable people and communities across the UK, especially during the pandemic.
"Expanding the scheme will mean hundreds of millions more for good causes, helping us to build back stronger in the years to come."
Companies who are signed up to the dormant assets scheme must make a reasonable effort first to contact the owners of the money before handing over cash to the government.
You can also still reclaim any money already taken, but it's best to keep track of your funds in the first place.
Martyn James, consumer expert at Resolver, said: "People change jobs more, move home and lose touch of their finances – so it's vital that there are simple, effective and free ways to not only track down your assets but bring them all together in one place.
"It's worth noting that dormant accounts and assets have traditionally been moved 'off the grid' by financial companies and banks where they sit gathering dust.
"But very little effort was made to track down the owners – and some businesses kept woefully inadequate records."
We explain how to track down money you could be owed – just be wary of firms asking for cash to do this for you as you should always try and do this yourself for free first.
Lost pensions – claim back £13,000
If you've changed jobs frequently, it's likely you'll have been signed up to several employee pension schemes during your working life.
It can also be hard to keep track of personal pensions when you move house, change your name or don't update your personal details.
But there are ways to find your retirement pots.
Experts at The Association of British Insurers estimate there are 1.6 million lost pensions with a collective figure of £19.4billion. This puts the average size of a lost pension at £13,000.
How to track down lost pension savings
IT’S not the easiest to find pensions yourself, but there are things you can try:
- Gather all your pensions documents – If you see any pension providers you don’t recognise, make sure you get in touch and ask if they have more information about your pension and its value.
- Get in touch with old employers – If they’re still in business, contact them to see if they can help you find out which pension provider administers your scheme.
- Check whether you’ve opted out of SERPS – You can do this by contacting HMRC and your pension administrators, but it can be time-consuming. You’ll need to log into your personal tax account on the GOV.UK website, write to HMRC and ask for details on your pensions including policy numbers. You’ll then need to contact your pension scheme administrator.
If you know the pension provider or employer, the Pension Tracing Service will find you the contact details needed to start your search.
However, it won't be able to tell you whether you have a pension or what its value is.
The Pensions Advisory Service is another free service with a pension tracing tool, but again it warns that it may struggle to help if you're unable to provide key details.
There are also paid-for services you can use to trace pensions, although make sure you're aware of all the costs before signing up.
Lost insurance policies – claim back £100s
There are so many different insurance policies to think about, so it's understandable if you've lost track of where your money could be.
The free Policydetective.co.uk website lets you find the contact details of policy providers, if you already know the name of the company you took out insurance with.
Once you've found the details, you'll need to get in contact with the company yourself.
For those who can't remember the name, trade body the Association of British Insurers (ABI) recommends checking for lost life insurance policies using credit reference agency Experian's Unclaimed Assets Register.
Just bear in mind that this service costs £25 for each search.
For car insurance policies, check the Motor Insurer's Bureau Database.
But for travel, home and other insurance policies, there is unfortunately no central policy database you can check.
Your best bet is to check bank and credit card statements to see which providers you've paid money to.
We've previously reported how millions of people could owed up to £500 from Aviva, LV= and Royal London from forgotten "penny" insurance policies.
Lost investments – claim back £1,000s
If you're struggling to find a record of your investments, you can check by getting in contact with the company you have shares in.
There are also three main company registers which hold all this information – Computershare, Equiniti, and Link Asset Services.
But keep in mind that they will charge you a replacement shares certificate, although they'll conduct a search for free.
Alternatively, you can try contacting trade bodies the Investment Association or the Association of Investment Companies.
The amount you could claim back would depend on how much you've invested.
Lost bank accounts – claim back £1,500
If you can remember your bank or building society, your first step should be to contact them.
If you can't remember the details, or your bank or building society says it can't help, you can use the free My Lost Account tracing service.
There are over 70 providers signed up the scheme, including all major banks and all 43 UK building societies.
In 2019, we reported on how millions of savers could be sitting on around £1,528 of cash in lost bank accounts.
NS&I winnings – claim £100s or £1,000s
National Savings & Investments is also signed up to the free My Lost Account tracing service, so you can use it to track down old Premium Bond prizes.
You can also check for any outstanding NS&I Premium Bond wins online using the prize checker at www.nsandi.com.
You can reclaim wins all the way back to June 1957.
If you don't know your account number, you can phone NS&I on 08085 007 007 or write to it and ask for a replacement bond record to be sent to you.
You can write to NS&I at the following address: NS&I, Glasgow, G58 1SB.
You should give as much detail as you can, including your full name, address details, when and where you bought your Premium Bonds and how much they're worth.
How to check if you’ve won
IF you think you might have an unclaimed prize, the best way to check depends on what info you have about your Premium Bond account.
You'll have been given both a Premium Bond holder's number and a National Savings and Investments number.
- If you know your Premium Bond holder's number, you can go to the NS&I website or download its prize checker app. Enter your holder's number and it'll tell you if you've any unclaimed prizes.
- If you don't know your holder's number, but have your NS&I number, you can use that number – which you'll find on any letters from NS&I – as well as your surname and password to log in to NS&I online and find your holder's number on the "account details" page. NS&I's prize checker app also accepts your NS&I number.
- If you don't know your holder's number or account number, you can phone NS&I on 08085 007 007 or write to it and ask for a replacement bond record to be sent to you. You should give as much detail as you can, for example your full name, address details, when and where you bought your Premium Bonds and how much they're worth.
- Alternatively, you can use NS&I's tracing service or the My Lost Account website, both of which can track down your Premium Bond details. They ask you to fill out info about yourself including your name, address, an estimate of how many Premium Bonds you hold and how long you've held them.
- If you find you do have an unclaimed prize, you'll need to write to NS&I at: NS&I, Glasgow, G58 1SB. Give as much information as you can, including your name and any information about your Premium Bonds.
- Prizes will then be sent to your home address as a warrant, which is like a cheque. Unfortunately, you can't have unclaimed prizes paid directly into your bank account.
- The process is slightly different if the Bond holder has died – you'd first need to inform NS&I of the death and then follow the steps above. Any prize money will be paid to whoever inherits the Bond holder's estate.
Child Trust Funds – claim £1,000s
Millions of parents have thousands of pounds stashed away under their child's name in a Child Trust Fund.
In fact, around 6.3 million accounts have been set up since their launch in 2002, according to HMRC.
The tool for tracking down lost accounts was revamped in September as the first Child Trust Funds matured – giving teens a windfall of up to £2,400.
If you're not sure if your child has one, you can fill in this online form via the Gov.uk website. You’ll need a Government Gateway user ID and password.
How much is in a Child Trust Fund depends on what children initially got from the government and whether money was saved in a cash account or a stocks and shares account.
The current limit is up to £9,000 a year with no tax payable on the interest – but you can't open a new account as Child Trust Funds were discontinued in January 2011 and replaced by the Junior Isa.
Energy bill refunds – claim £130
If your energy bills are based on your estimated use, you could be entitled to money back from your provider if you used less than what they projected.
However, keep in mind that most households will likely be using more energy due to working from home. Temperatures have also dropped, meaning you'll likely be heating your property.
Sadly, of the Big Six suppliers, only npower, ScottishPower and British Gas refund automatically.
So for other providers, you'll need to get in contact with them.
If you know your current and previous energy suppliers, you should look back through your bills to see if you're due money.
For old suppliers, your current provider might be able to tell you who your old energy firm was by checking the UK database.
Last year, 13 million homes in the UK were owed £1.7billion by energy suppliers with an average reclaim amount of £136.
Student loan refunds – claim back £100s or £1,000s
Martin Lewis warned last month how 100,000 graduates have overpaid on student loans.
It comes after MoneySavingExpert found some employers were automatically placing workers on “Plan 1” student loan repayment plans.
With “Plan 1” loans, you need to make repayments once you reach a lower level of earnings compared with those on “Plan 2”.
You should be on “Plan 1” if you’re an English or Welsh student who started an undergraduate course before September 1, 2012.
Scottish and Northern Irish students are also automatically on “Plan 1”.
For “Plan 2”, you're an English or Welsh student who started an undergraduate course after September 1, 2012.
The crucial difference is “Plan 1” students start repaying 9% of their income when they earn over £18,330, while it’s £25,000 for Plan 2.
If you’re on the wrong plan, you’ll first want to tell your current employer so they can correct the mistake.
For your actual refund, you’ll need to contact SLC directly on 0300 100 0611 (or +44 141 243 3660 from overseas).
We previously spoke to an airport worker who found lost pension pots worth £21,000.
The Sun also revealed how one mum found £800 in her son's missing Child Trust Fund.
And here are four ways to reclaim HUNDREDS of pounds in just a few minutes, according to Martin Lewis.
Source: Read Full Article