Cash from old: ways you can get back money back

6 min read
January 28, 2021

Whether you’re saving like mad or looking at a big upcoming expense, the need to keep on top of finances, even without considering the Covid-19 pandemic, has perhaps never been bigger. 

Last month, Resolver posted some quick tips to help you claw back money for Christmas – and beyond. But if you’re wondering whether there’s a bank account that you’ve forgotten about, a pension or two you’ve lost track of, or an outstanding credit that you could claim back, there may be some longer-term look-outs. 

Be aware – for some of these you’ll need to check or hunt down some paperwork, but if they apply to you, they could potentially help you unlock some cash. 

Do you have a dormant or lost bank account?

A dormant account is a bank or building society account that hasn’t been touched or seen any ingoings or outgoings for around three years or more. Typical examples could be student accounts opened that have not been closed, accounts opened for you (maybe as a child) that you’ve not touched or savings accounts that you simply may have forgotten about. Banks and building societies will attempt to contact you if your account has not been used, but if they’re unsuccessful after a number of tries, they may declare your account dormant. 

You’re entitled to reclaim money from a dormant account of yours at any time – including interest you would’ve been entitled to. If you know the account exists we advise you to contact your account provider directly – you’ll need your account number, balance (as you know it from the most recent paperwork you have) and any statements you can provide. Also be prepared that if you’ve changed address or if, for example, you’ve got married and changed your name, the account provider may not have your most up to date details. 

If however you don’t have these details, or you’re not certain you have a dormant account but want to check, you can use My Lost Account  to do so simply and for free. You’ll need to register and verify your profile, then you can search through providers that you suspect may hold an account in your name. You will have to wait for the provider to confirm you hold an account – up to three months usually.

What if the government has taken money from my dormant account? 

Under the Dormant Assets Scheme the government can take money from accounts that have been dormant for more than 15 years to use for charitable causes. So far around £769 million has been unlocked for this purpose with the most recent of these phases being announced in May 2020. If you find that this has happened with your account don’t worry, you’re still entitled to that money back. 

This month the government has announced that the Dormant Assets Scheme has been extended to cover assets held under other financial services including insurance policies, investments, wealth management and pensions schemes, with more than £800 million available to be unlocked, so it’s worth checking if you have assets held from a long time ago that you can reclaim.

Did you travel on a delayed flight?

We know that this is possibly the silliest question we could ask you given the past year, but there is a point, we promise. And that is: if you’ve had the misfortune of travelling on a delayed flight anytime in the past six years (so from early 2015) there is a chance that you could be eligible for compensation.

Under EU rules – which still apply to UK citizens post-Brexit – you are likely to be entitled to compensation if you have suffered delays on flights:

  • Of more than three hours;
  • With no extreme circumstances causing the delay, such as weather, a pandemic or political instability; and
  • Operated by EU-based airlines. If your flight is operated by a non EU-based airline, you may still be able to claim, but only for flights leaving or arriving in the EU that are more than 3,500km in distance.

The difference to UK consumers post-Brexit is that they will now be paid in pounds sterling, rather than euro if their claim for compensation is successful. 

With Resolver’s Flight Compensation Tool , if your flight took place from 26 November 2019, you can quickly check if you are eligible for compensation before you attempt a claim. 

Do you have credit with your old energy supplier?

If you’ve switched your energy supplier then you must receive a final bill from your previous supplier. If you have, check carefully as your final bill may show you’re in credit – and you’re entitled to that money back. 

Your final bill from your old supplier must be with you within six weeks of you making the switch to your new one. If this hasn’t happened then you are also entitled to £30 compensation, so keep an eye on that date if you have switched or are looking to do so, according to new rules from regulator Ofgem set last May. 

You should also receive any credit refund you’re owed within 10 days of that final bill being issued to you. If this hasn’t happened automatically, you will then be entitled to £30 compensation under rules enforced by Ofgem in May 2019. 

Have you lost track of any of your pensions?

This may or may not allow you to get access to money now as that depends on how much/long you paid into a pension for. But, it will mean that you’ve got everything you’re entitled to when the day comes that you want to stop work. Many of us will have signed up to more than one workplace pension scheme (or other schemes) in our lifetime and while you should always receive an annual statement for any pension you have, it can be hard to keep track of them all, especially if your circumstances have changed or there’s a reason for the provider not having your most recent details, such as moving house.   

You can use the Pension Tracing Service as a starting point to trace a pension if you’ve lost the details, or you suspect you have one with a provider. Be aware that the service won’t tell you if you have a pension or how much it’s worth, but it will give you the contact details of the pension’s administrator to check this directly. If it’s a workplace pension you’re looking for, fill in as much detail as you know about your employer and the pension scheme you had at the time. If it’s a personal pension then search using the provider’s name.

Have you checked your bank statements?

Finally, we’re repeating this because we cannot say it enough. Check your bank statements going back more than a year to see if any regular debit debits (monthly, quarterly, annually) are exiting your account that you can’t remember what they’re for. 

We’d all of course recognise our mortgage or rent, and household bills but there could be lurking among your outgoings things such as monthly subscriptions you no longer use (or have been signed up for or renewed without you realising), monthly payments for things you simply don’t need such as old ‘warranty’ cover for appliances or memberships that you may want to opt out of. The quarterly and annual ones are the ones that are most likely to be forgotten but can rapidly add up.

If you don’t want to use these subscriptions anymore – or worse, you’ve been signed up to something without realising or not knowing what you were getting into, your bank can cancel the payment. And if you complain, you may even get a refund for what you’ve paid out.

If you are having trouble getting back money you’re entitled to from providers, try submitting a claim or making a complaint through Resolver for free and we’ll help you get your issue sorted.

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