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Do you have a lost bank account?
Banks and building societies sometimes lose track of their customers, either due to death, change of address, change of name, or for some other reason. If there has been no activity on the account and they are unable to contact the owner, the account is marked as dormant.
If a bank account is dormant for over 15 years it is considered ‘lost' and all communication will cease to reduce the risk of fraud or ID theft. Financial institutions do try to find another way to get in touch with owners of lost accounts, including publicity campaigns to raise awareness of the problem, but still accounts go unclaimed. The Government makes use of this money to fund social and community causes, but it can still be claimed by its rightful owner.
Why seek out old bank accounts?
There is almost £15 billion in lost bank accounts, bonds and investments in the UK, unclaimed by its owners, and almost £1 billion of this is cash bank accounts. If there's a chance that some of your money is out there unclaimed, it is worth consolidating it into your other accounts. You'll also have the best perspective to make budgeting decision if all of your bank, building society, and credit card accounts are added to your Money Dashboard money management software, rather than just your main accounts.
How to Recover Lost Accounts
If you think there's a chance that there is an unclaimed bank account out there with your name on it, your first step is to try and find any old bank statements, letters, or documented proof. Then go to the bank or building society and ask them to investigate.
If that doesn't help you, mylostaccount.org.uk is a free service set up by National Savings & Investments, the British Bankers' Association, and the Building Societies Association that searches through records of many different providers of current and savings accounts in the UK to try to uncover any abandoned accounts in your name. This is a slow, manual process involving many contributing parties and can take up to three months, but it's worth it if you have an account out there that's been doing nothing but gathering interest for 15 years.
Death Do Us Part
The process is the same if you are looking for an account registered to a dead relative. You will need to prove that you have a legal right to inherit the account, via a Will or other arrangement.
It's unlikely that you have hundreds of pounds stuffed away in a savings account and you simply forgot about it, but if there's a chance that you could recover some cash you thought was lost, it's definitely worth tracking down the account and closing it, if only to tidy up your personal finances for your credit report.