How to find lost bank accounts and lost savings
If you think you may have a lost bank account or a lost savings account there are tracing schemes that can help.
The easiest way to re-trace lost savings is to use the mylostaccount.org.uk service, run by the British Bankers' Association, Building Societies Association and National Savings and Investments (NS&I).
You can search banks, building societies and all NS&I products free of charge by completing one form online. Searches with banks and building societies will be completed within three months and within one month for NS&I.
The form will ask you to provide information about you such as current contact details, your date of birth and any previous addresses and names.
You will also need to provide as much information as you can about the account you think you have lost, such as:
- The branch you opened it at
- When you opened it
- When you last used it
- An approximate balance
- Type of account
- Sort code and account number
Paper mylostaccount forms are also available in bank and building society branches. If the provider finds an account that matches your information, it will contact you to explain how you can access the unclaimed funds, including any interest, in the account. You will need to provide proof of identity in order to access the money.
If you know which provider your lost account is with you can also contact it directly. You can also use NS&I's tracing service for lost savings held with it.
Find out more: Read our step-by-step guide – how to find the best savings account
Tracing lost investments and pensions
The Unclaimed Assets Register will trace any lost investments in one go. It’s a database of investments, pensions and life insurance policies held with 76 major providers, including share registrars, administered by Experian. But you'll have to pay a fixed fee of £25 for the service.
This doesn't cover all financial institutions, so if you don't get a match, or you don't want to pay the fee, there are other options:
For workplace pension schemes, contact your former employer or use the Government's free online Pension Tracing Service to identify the correct contact details.
For personal pension savings, call the Pensions Advisory Service, providing them with as much information as possible about the scheme, your dates of employment and copies of any certificates you still have.
If you think you have company shares, but have lost your share certificate, you can check by applying to one of the three main company registrars – Capita Registrars, Computershare and Equiniti.
They’ll search their records and, for a fee, will supply a replacement certificate. If you've lost track of shares bought via a nominee account you would need to contact the broker.
For other investment products, the Investment Association may be able to help.
Monimine is a relatively new tracing service that says it will check multiple asset types free of charge (it charges financial companies instead, relative to the volume of customers they have), although it doesn't cover all financial institutions and Which? has not had any feedback from users of the service.
What happens to lost money?
If your bank or building society loses touch with you it will mark your account as ‘dormant’.
There are two situations where your account can become dormant:
- Your provider receives bank undelivered mail. They will make the account dormant for security reasons to prevent identity fraud
- There has been no activity on the account (i.e. withdrawals or deposits) for a set period of time. Typically three years for savings accounts and one year for current accounts.
Once a bank marks your account as dormant it will stop contacting you and no further action will be taken with the account.
After 15 years, under the government’s dormant accounts scheme, unclaimed money in dormant bank accounts is given to charitable causes.
However, you will still be able to reclaim your money after this point by following the procedure explained above.