New online service will speed up the search for forgotten accounts

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The Independent Online

A website has been launched aimed at reuniting people with money that has been languishing in forgotten savings accounts. will be the subject of a major newspaper advertising campaign starting this week. It brings together three existing account-tracing services run by the British Bankers' Association, the Building Societies Association and the state-owned National Savings & Investments (NS&I). In total, along with NS&I, 42 banks and all 59 building societies have signed up to the new website.

Account holders, or their representatives (such as an executor taking an estate through probate) simply log on to the website and supply the information requested – for example, past addresses and any changes of name. This is then passed to the banks, building societies and NS&I for the search process to start. Traces are completed within three months of the original form being received.

From 2009, the Government plans to transfer money held in accounts that have seen no activity for at least 15 years into a central fund, to be distributed to community projects. Around £1bn may find its way to good causes. However, even where savings have already been redirected into the fund, the rightful owner will have the right to reclaim their cash.

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