Retrieving trapped cash from a dormant bank account

If you have money in a defunct bank account, Paul Lewis has the key to unlocking it...

Close up ten pound note stack

I found an old Capital & Counties bank book the other day. It had £772 8s 11d in it – that’s £772.44, for those born after 1960.

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I am pretty certain that the money is not there now, though, as the book is dated 1922.

Just because you have found a bank book with a balance on it doesn’t mean that the money actually exists. The person who held the account may have closed it or perhaps transferred the money to another account. But people do often come across old bank books and wonder if they can get the money back.

The first thing to do, if the bank still exists, is to contact it directly by physically calling in at a branch.

Take with you as much information as possible about the account holder and any previous addresses they may have held.

Only take copies, not originals, of anything irreplaceable. If the account is in the name of someone who has died, you will at some point need to produce the probate or letters of administration that show you are entitled to enquire.

If the bank or building society no longer exists, don’t worry – it will have been taken over by a bank that does and any money will, therefore, be safe.

The invaluable free service mylostaccount.org.uk will help you find it and covers just about all the banks and building societies and every product of National Savings & Investments.

After an account has been unused for 15 years, it is deemed to be “dormant” and any money will have been forwarded to a Government scheme so that it can be used for good causes. But don’t worry – if you can demonstrate title to it,  it will be returned to you.

Once an account is declared dormant, the records are preserved for ever.

You should hear back from the scheme quite quickly, and certainly within three months.

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If you believe the response to be wrong, you can appeal and, if necessary, take your case to the Financial Ombudsman financialombudsman. org.uk/consumers/
how-to-complain.