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 (often 15 years), the bank, building society or NS&I 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 It is not good practice to send statements, cheque books and other material to an out-of-date address, where someone other than you could try to access the account or use the correspondence for other fraudulent purposes.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.
Banks and building societies have set procedures for trying to contact customers before they mark accounts as 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
For how long do banks and building societies retain lost accounts?
After 15 years of no contact with a customer, monies may be transferred under the statute-backed scheme to benefit societal causes. Where this is the case, banks and building societies continue to hold all records of your account in perpetuity and the transfer of such monies has no bearing on the rights of the legally entitled account holder to access their funds in the future.
Banks and building societies only need to keep records of closed accounts (where all money has been withdrawn or transferred to another account) for six years after closure.
Will I lose the right to my money under the unclaimed assets scheme?
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 - or 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.
mylostaccount.org.uk process over 8,000 applications per month. Nearly all of these are online applications. Completing the application form online not only means that your application is processed more quickly but means that you can keep track of the responses received by banks, building societies and NS&I by logging into your profile. However we appreciate not everyone can submit an online form and copies of the application form can either be printed from this site or you can contact us to request a paper copy be sent to you. The paper application service is not combined and therefore there are separate forms for lost accounts with banks, building societies and NS&I. Please ensure you complete the correct form and send it to the correct address. If you send your postal application to UK Finance or the Building Societies Association they will be then manually transfer the information that you have provided into an online mylostaccount.org.uk application and you will receive responses by post. Because of the additional administration involved paper applications will take longer to process so please complete your application online if possible. You can download the forms below:
For lost accounts with banks, or with building societies that became banks complete the UK Finance form - Download the UK Finance form in PDF format
For lost accounts with current building societies complete the Building Societies Association form - Download the BSA form in PDF format
For lost National Savings and Investments products complete the NS&I form - Download the NS&I form in PDF format
Banks and building societies will generally let you know the result of a search by sending you an alert to your email address via mylostaccount. You will be invited to log in to your account to see the result of the search. If you have selected multiple banks and building societies you will receive an alert each time a bank or building society has completed their search. If an account has been found information will be shown to inform you of the next step required to claim your lost money. If you have searched for a National Savings & Investments’ account then they will write to you with the result of the search. Some building societies may contact you directly.
There are occasions when you might wish to submit multiple applications - for example if you are checking for lost accounts for multiple children, both deceased parents or you are a probate solicitor. Once you have created a profile by providing an email address and password you can submit additional applications from your profile page. Your contact details will be retained for one year from your last application. If you have multiple applications being processed at the same time each will have a unique reference number so that you can identify what response refers to which application.
A response to your claim will be given as soon as possible, but within three months of receiving your completed application. 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 or building society cannot agree on the validity of your claim, or is unable to find an account, you will have the right to appeal through their 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.
There are over 70 participants in the mylostaccount service, including all major banks, all 43 UK building societies and National Savings & Investments (including the old Post Office Savings Bank accounts). You will see the list of participants in the pull down menu options within the application process.
If you know the name of the bank or building society with which you held the account and that institution still exists, then it’s best to start by contacting that bank or building society directly.
In some cases, a bank or building society may still believe it has up to date contact details for your account and not have classified it as lost. In this case, it will not be possible to trace your account using the mylostaccount.org.uk service and you should contact your bank or building society directly.
Will Executors: If you are an executor, or the nearest of kin, seeking to settle the banking affairs of someone who has died, the first point of contact should be the bank and/or building society in question since the accounts in question may not be classified as lost.
Foreign accounts: If you are searching for accounts held abroad, then you need to contact those institutions directly. This service is for tracing UK accounts only.
Charity or business accounts: If you are trying to locate a lost business or charity account, then consult your bank or building society for more details. This service is for personal accounts only.
A number of foreign banks operating in the UK are included in this scheme. However, if your account is held overseas you will need to pursue your claim with the bank or savings institution holding the account directly. This service is for tracing UK accounts only.
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 five largest banks (HSBC, Barclays, Lloyds, Royal Bank of Scotland and Santander), the use of the geographical facility for building societies and a search of NS&I. This service only traces lost accounts (generally untouched for 15 years) and so cannot be used to trace active accounts.
If you are trying to trace a lost account with Abbey National, Alliance & Leicester, Bradford & Bingley, Birmingham Midshires, Bristol & West, Britannia, Cheltenham & Gloucester, Halifax, National & Provincial, Northern Rock or Woolwich please note that these accounts will now be with banks. mylostaccount.org.uk spans banks and building societies, old, new and converted, so simply do a search for the institution during your application and you will be informed who the successor institution is and be able to select that option. There is also a free text notes field to add details should you wish.
The search facility on mylostaccount.org.uk draws on a long list of banks and building societies that have closed, merged or changed name. The search results will tell you who the successor bank or building society is. Alternatively, to find out what happened to an old building society you can you use the search tool on the BSA website.