How to save money: Reclaim your lost assets

A few years ago I returned to the UK after living abroad for a while. I kept my bank account open, not being sure whether or not I would return – I didn't, and no longer have cards or paperwork relating to that account. There wasn't a lot of money left there, just a few pounds, but it remains in situ and is, in theory, an unclaimed asset.

Now, imagine if everyone had an account like this that had lay dormant, for whatever reason – there would be a lot of money lying around without anyone claiming it.

Sure enough, figures from Experian suggest that while the total value of unclaimed financial assets in the UK has not been accurately defined, it is estimated to be approximately £15-20bn. In fact, a sum of around £400m lies unclaimed in various bank and building society accounts.

It isn't just forgotten bank accounts – an asset can be separated from its owner for many reasons, including: death, a change of address, or illegal activity. It can also happen when the owner fails to notify a company or Registrar of a change of address, or when people make investments and fail to tell their partners.

There is actually £31m floating around in around half a million unclaimed premium bond prizes, and a whopping £400m worth from life assurance and pension schemes that has never been paid out. Finally, the total amount of unclaimed money estimated in NS and I (National Savings and Investments) products is as much as £1billion.

Websites such as the Unclaimed Assets Register enable consumers and other users to locate lost or forgotten assets, re-establish contact with financial institutions and reclaim money due. It could also safeguard your family's assets following death.

One of the first ways to check your finances in order is to check your credit report. This lists your credit accounts, from cards and loans to your mortgage. It will show you where your money's going, how well you are coping and whether there's anything that can go. You can see your Experian credit score and credit report for free with a 30-day trial of CreditExpert. (New customers only. Monthly fee applies after free trial ends)

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