Billions are lying unclaimed in lost and dormant bank, building society and NS&I accounts. In this guide we take you through the simple steps you should take to re-trace your lost money online.

What happens to money in dormant accounts?

Providers will hold onto money in dormant accounts for several years – and should hand it over straightaway if the accounts are traced.

After 15 years, under the government’s Unclaimed Assets Scheme, money in dormant bank accounts is given to charitable causes.

However, you will still be able to reclaim your money after this point by following the procedure explained above.

Premium bonds work slightly differently; as long as you haven’t cashed in the bonds they’ll still be valid and will still be entered into the prize draws each month.

How do I complain about an account tracing service?

If the bank can’t find the account, and you’re sure it exists, you can complain to the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS).

The FOS will ask banks and building societies to demonstrate that they’ve done a full investigation into the account you’re tracing. If the provider can’t do this, the FOS will likely view your case favourably.

You’ll usually need to provide the FOS with the original passbook, details of any names and addresses that have changed since the account was taken out.

You’ll also need details of any major transactions (such as buying a house) since the last recorded entry on the account and an explanation of how the passbook came to light and why the customer had not been in contact with the bank before this time.

If the FOS find strong evidence that the account and balance still exist, it will usually tell the bank to reinstate the account with interest from the time of the last recorded transaction, pay interest on the new balance at a rate of 8% from the point that you first asked for the money to date.

You’ll also get paid compensation if it thinks you’ve had to deal with any stress or inconvenience while sorting out the claim.