Many of us don’t bother to shop around for the best savings interest rates but research done by National Savings & Investments (NS&I) shows that millions of us are even more careless with our savings.
Lost savings accounts
In a survey of 2,500 people NS&I found that 16% of people thought they had savings accounts or investments which they had lost track of. If the results of the survey mirror the wider population that would mean around seven million people have savings or investments they can’t locate.
Of those people who thought they had lost their savings, 40% had made no effort to track them down, despite the fact many would use any money they found to repay bills or debts.
A lack of organisation and general forgetfulness seem to be the two main reasons for savers losing track of their accounts. Financial experts also point out that the increase in mergers between banks and building societies will have made matters more complicated for savers.
Of those people who couldn’t locate their savings 28% had lost their original account details, 27% found it hard to remember which accounts they had opened, 21% had not updated their address after moving house, meaning statements would never reach them and 24% of people had been given savings as a child but never bothered to find out the full details.
Responding to the survey, John Prout, Retail Customer Director, NS&I, said: ‘Even small amounts of money can help with the costs of day to day living, so it’s important people keep a track of their savings no matter how much they’ve previously put away. At NS&I we’re making it easier to mange our products online or by phone, which means customers can easily stay close to their money and keep us updated if they move house.”
Prout continued: “NS&I to date, has reunited customers with more than £450 million through its tracing service and the website, MyLostAccount”.
NS&I savings accounts
NS&I has over 26 million customers with £100 billion invested in their savings and investments. The popularity of their savings accounts has risen since the credit crunch because 100% of money with them is protected, unlike other banks and building societies whose protection is limited to £85,000 per customer per institution under the rules of the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS).
Customers of NS&I can help to reduce the changes of ‘losing’ their savings accounts by managing them online or by phone and holders of Premium Bonds can have any prizes they win paid directly to their current accounts.
Despite this many Premium Bond prizes go unclaimed with sums as large as £100,000 still waiting to be paid out. NS&I say that the main reason for prizes not being claimed is savers changing their address and failing to update NS&I.
Claiming ‘lost’ savings accounts
There are a number of things savers can do to help track down lost savings accounts.
Firstly the website www.mylostaccount.org.uk, which is run by NS&I along with the British Bankers Association and the Building Societies Association, helps put savers back in touch with their lost accounts, you can visit the site by clicking here.
Secondly, if you hold Premium Bonds you can check whether you have missed a prize by visiting the NS&I website, by clicking here, and entering your Premium Bond numbers. Other missing NS&I accounts can be found through their own tracing service, which can be found by clicking here.