London: New research shows that this is exactly what millions of us do, and risk paying a shockingly high price as a result.
Money can also go astray when a loved one dies, causing unnecessary financial hardship for grieving families.
The good news is that money lying in old pensions, investment funds or savings accounts still belongs to you and with a bit of effort, you can track it down.
JUST THE JOB
The average Briton now has 11 jobs during their working lifetimes, and can easily end up with a confusing array of company pensions.
So it may come as little surprise to hear that one in five of those with multiple pensions has lost track of one or all of them, according to new research from insurer Aegon.
The result is that more than 6.6 million Britons may have misplaced some of their retirement savings.
Kate Smith, head of pensions at Aegon, says the launch of the auto-enrolment workplace pension scheme will worsen the problem: “Seven million more people are now saving into a pension, but many have lost track of some of their savings.”
If you are tired of juggling different pensions, it is possible to combine them within a single pot.
However, first you need to track your old pensions down, as well as any misplaced savings or investment products.
An estimated £400 million is lying unclaimed in pension savings in the UK and David Newman, head of pensions at Close Brothers Asset Management, says: “You can hunt down lost or forgotten pensions built up years ago by visiting the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) pension tracing service. This gives you the right contact details of former employers so you can reclaim what is yours.”
Start your search online at at gov.uk/ find-pension-contact-details, or telephone 0345 6002 537.
Alternatively, send your details to The Pension Service 9, Mail Handling Site A, Wolverhampton WV98 1LU.
If you enter your old employer’s name, this should generate a contact address for the pension scheme administrator, even if the company has changed its name or gone out of business.
Newman says if you decide to consolidate your pensions it may be worth taking financial advice first: “Make sure you do not give up any valuable benefits, such as guaranteed annuity rates, or incur charges.”
At the same time it may be worth getting a state pension forecast, either in paper format or online at Gov.uk/check-statepension, to see what that is worth..
Up to £15 billion could be lying in dormant life insurance policies, bank and building society accounts, Premium Bonds, investment funds and pensions, according to the Unclaimed Assets Register.
David Black, banking specialist at DJB Research, says you may still be able to trace the money even if you have lost your original paperwork or the company has changed its name: “The more information you can supply, the easier it will be.”
You can trace old bank and building society accounts, or Premium Bonds and other products from National Savings & Investments at MyLostAccount.org.uk.
Premium Bond holders might also want to visit NSandI.com/prize-checker to see if they hold any unclaimed prizes.
The Investment Association can help you trace lost unit trusts by calling 020 7831 0898 or emailing email@example.com.
For lost investment trusts, contact the Association of Investment Companies, on 020 7282 5555 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can also claim for assets owned by deceased relatives, provided you can prove you are the beneficiary. If you are happy to pay a £25 fee, the Unclaimed Assets Register will search millions of records from around 75 different companies.
However, Black says: “With a little effort you can track down your lost assets free of charge.”