What is a lost account?
Banks, building societies and NS&I wherever possible seek to keep in touch with their customers. If, however, an account has been inactive for an extended period, the account holding bank or building society will write to the customer asking them whether they wish the account to remain open.
If no response is received, the bank, building society or NS&I will stop sending correspondence and will class the account as “lost”. This ensures that financial details are not sent to what might be an old address. This reduces the risk of fraud and ID theft. It is not good practice to send statements, cheque books and other material to an out-of-date address, where someone other than you could try to access the account or use the correspondence for other fraudulent purposes.
The most typical cause of an account becoming lost is a change of address.
NB: Whilst the term "Lost Account" is used to describe this schemes function it is important to mention that banks only search for "Dormant" bank accounts. Therefore the search result may state "Not Found" but you have "Active" accounts with the bank you have ticked. This is because the search completed by the bank is from their records maintained in a database of "Non Active" or "Dormant" bank accounts only.
How do banks, building societies and NS&I go about tracing their customers?
Banks and building societies have set procedures for trying to contact customers before they make accounts lost. This contact is normally in addition to other regular customer mailings. Depending on the circumstances, banks and building societies may also undertake other forms of pro-active search to trace customers when they lose touch.
In the event that an account does become lost, however, customers can reactivate the account or otherwise claim their money on application to their bank, building society or NS&I or by using the online claim form on mylostaccount.org.uk – simply go to the search button on the homepage.
What is mylostaccount.org.uk?
mylostaccount.org.uk is a FREE central tracing scheme spanning banks, building societies and NS&I. It draws together the three central tracing schemes first introduced in 2001.
mylostaccount.org.uk is designed to help where the customer is unsure of which bank or building society holds an account to which they have entitlement, including instances where the bank or building society has since closed or merged. NS&I investments can also be traced using the online application form.
Will I lose the right to my money under the unclaimed assets scheme?
The answer to the question is an unambiguous NO. Moreover, you will continue to be able to search for longstanding lost accounts through the bank or building society in question or through mylostaccount.org.uk.
Banks and building societies, under the terms of the statute-backed scheme, will continue to undertake searches where account holders - other their legal heirs - come forward after the money has been transferred.
Shouldn't banks and building societies do more to trace their customers?
Banks and building societies go to considerable lengths to trace customers - the extent depending on the amount involved - but where it seems clear that a customer no longer lives at the last known address, there would be a substantial risk to continue to send information about the account there.
Banks and building societies use whatever information they have access to in attempting to contact their customer, but where these efforts are not successful, the account will be classified as lost. Banks and building societies do not set out to lose contact with their customers and it is not in their commercial interests to do so.
NS&I take similar steps in re-establishing contact with its customers.
My account was held at a building society, but it has now converted into a bank. Do I claim under the building society scheme or the bank scheme?
mylostaccount.org.uk spans banks and building societies, old, new and converted, simply do a search on our website.
What happens if my bank or building society has closed or merged?
The search facility on mylostaccount.org.uk draws on a long list of banks and building societies that have closed, merged or changed name. If you can’t find the bank or building society that you are looking for, call the BBA lost accounts unit and they'll do everything they can to help. The number is 020 7216 8909.
o You will be advised if the banks are unable to find an account in their records which matches the details on your claim.
o You will be advised of the name of the bank(s) who finds details of an account.
mylostaccount.org.uk and the underlying support from the BBA and BSA provide the means by which your claim can be directed to the right institutions.
How quickly will claims be decided upon?
A response to your claim will be given as soon as possible, but within three months of receiving your completed claim form. In the case of NS&I you should receive a response within one month.
Who will decide whether claims are valid?
The scheme member bank, building society or NS&I will decide on the validity of each claim.
If a bank cannot agree on the validity of your claim, or is unable to find an account, you will have the right to appeal through the bank's internal complaints process. If the appeal is unsuccessful, you will have the right to refer your complaint to the Financial Ombudsman Service, South Quay Plaza, 183 Marsh Wall, London, E14 9SR, Telephone: 0845 080 1800. Website: www.financial-ombudsman.org.uk
Is there a complaint procedure if the claimant is not happy with the decision made by the bank, building society or NS&I?
Each institution will do its utmost to ensure that they have fully investigated the claim on behalf of the claimant.
If you disagree with the way a bank or building society has dealt with a claim you will have the right to appeal through its internal appeal process. If your appeal is unsuccessful, you have the right to refer the matter to the Financial Ombudsman Service, South Quay Plaza, 183 Marsh Wall, London, E14 9SR, Telephone: 0845 080 1800. Website: www.financial-ombudsman.org.uk
Will my money be repaid with interest?
If the bank, building society or NS&I agrees that you have a valid claim on an account, and it was an interest bearing account, they will tell you the amount of interest which has accrued, and how you can access the funds.
Which banks and building societies are in the scheme?
A full list of scheme members is provided online and on the downloadable PDF forms.
What if the account is with a bank not in the scheme?
You can still complete the claim form, and send it to the head office of the bank in question. As with the scheme members, this bank will also investigate the validity of your claim. The BBA will also be very happy to guide you in the right direction.
What if the account is with a foreign bank?
You will see from the list of banks printed on the claim form that a number of foreign banks operating in the UK are included in this scheme. If your account is held overseas however you will need to pursue your claim with the bank or savings institution holding the account.
Advice on searching in respect of wills and legacies
There are instances where the executors of wills have reason to believe that there are accounts missing from the personal financial records available to them. In these circumstances we recommend a search of the six largest banks, the use of the geographical facility for building societies and a search of NS&I.
How can I bid for unclaimed assets money for my charity or community cause?
There is no mechanism for doing so at this stage. For further information please see the consultation paper issued by HM Treasury in May 2007.