How I traced my old Abbey passbook savings account
A few weeks ago I found an old Abbey passbook that showed a balance of £8 in 2003.
I had completely forgotten about the Action Saver instant access savings account my dad had opened for me in 1996 - when I was nine years old - and wondered how to go about getting the money back.
As it hadn't been that long since I had used the account (nine years) I could have gone into a branch and asked about it.
But I hadn't seen an Abbey branch on a high street in years since the takeover and subsequent rebranding by Santander – which was probably why I forgot about the account!
Merging customers from Alliance & Leicester as well as Abbey has been a well-documented struggle and I wanted to avoid the bother of a muddled computer system failing to locate my account.
Instead my journey to reclaim money from this lost account took me via another route.
The first step
Through helpful advice on lovemoney.com I used a website called mylostaccount.org.uk. It's a completely free service that traces dormant or lost accounts for you.
The website is powered by the British Banker's Association (BBA), the Building Societies Association (BSA) and National Savings & Investments (NS&I) who have teamed up to bring the service to those on the hunt for lost assets.
The online form you have to fill in encourages you to list everything you know or can remember about the account and your details at the time.
I must admit I was hesitant after reading reports of customers going through hell tracing old accounts through Santander - but I was pleasantly surprised.
A week after I filled out the online form I received an email from mylostaccounts.org.uk confirming Santander was able to trace my account and that the bank would be contacting me in the coming weeks.
I was warned that it could take up to three months to hear anything back. So I wasn't holding out much hope based on Santander's poor reputation for customer service. But just eight days later the bank sent me a letter themselves asking me to come in with proof of identity and the passbook if possible.
As a happy HSBC customer it felt a bit wrong to go into another bank and I was concerned about the service I would receive.
But I was put in my place by incredibly friendly staff who jokingly asked what I had been doing all that time with £8 to burn in the bank.
They were able to quickly locate the account and reactivate it - but at a 1.02% rate I decided it was not worth keeping open.
I got £10.22 back - my pot had grown by £2.22 in nine years. That seems quite mediocre, but it's my own fault for not paying attention to the rate and moving the pot on.
Purpose for the future
Revisiting the past through an old account was a mixed bag of emotions for me.
I felt guilty for my dad who tried to set me up with £150 that I squandered as a silly child on CDs leaving only £8 to grow. He died when I was ten and I know he would have wanted me to be better with money.
But I also felt a renewed sense of purpose to make the most of my savings starting with the £10 I had got back. After all, you can do a lot with £10.
Try it yourself
Overall my experience was pleasant, swift and most important of all - easy.
Granted that's probably because I still had my passbook, a good idea of my address history and the account wasn't that old.
It might prove more difficult if you have got married in that time, a partner has passed away or you have moved frequently. But you can use a variety of things like a letter from the bank, old cheque book, ATM card or a statement to prove it exists.
If you don't have any of these to hand there are still ways to claim back all your neglected assets.
According to the Unclaimed Asset Register (UAR) there is something like £15 billion worth of assets that we've lost trace of.
If you have an inkling of an account you may have forgotten about I would definitely recommend trying to trace it. Finding it and getting your money back is a really satisfying experience no matter how small the pot.