Believe it or not, there are literally millions of dollars in forgotten or abandoned assets sitting in various banks across the world waiting to be claimed by their rightful owners. Money in these accounts could be left over from forgotten checking and savings accounts, pensions, and other interest-incurring accounts.
Perhaps the biggest reason that these accounts go unaccounted for is because there is no sure-fire way to know if you actually have an account carrying a balance without checking for yourself. If an account goes months without any activity, many financial institutions will consider that account dormant and attempt to contact you via the post or telephone. If unsuccessful, they eventually give up and file the funds away. So, unless you are actively looking, don’t expect money that may be yours to simply fall into your lap.
One of the most common pitfalls of people looking for lost assets is paying money to find potential accounts they may have forgotten. In virtually all cases, you are either being scammed or simply paying someone for work you could be easily doing yourself for free. These companies will do anything and everything they can in an effort to get you to sign up for their monthly service or other plans, promising huge returns that may not even exist in the first place. On top of that, they will ask for personal information, leaving you with a hefty bill and potentially comprimised personal information.
Depending on where you live, there may be automated systems that can assist you in finding lost and abandoned accounts. In the UK, for example, the Building Societies Association and National Savings and Investments each have a separate claim form that submit an inquiry to banks who will get back to you with possible results. This service is free, though it takes awhile to hear back from them.
Pensions and Trusts can also be reclaimed, although the process varies greatly by the type of account and is potentially more difficult. It is best to stay in touch with these assets, as they can be hard to reclaim if you retire and may even be voided in some circumstances. Life insurance policies that have been lost can also be reclaimed by calling the appropriate hotline based on where you live.
If you have a relative that has passed away, you can also use these same methods to find accounts in their name. You will need to provide more documentation to prove that you are legally entitled to the assets, and it may take more time to obtain any money.
As a rule, the best option available to you is to try your best to keep tabs on your money to avoid any delays in getting the funds to which you are entitled. Be sure to notify banks and other financial institutions of any address changes and keep any contact information updated, as doing so increaes the chances you will be made aware of an account you may have forgotten about.