British expats are sitting on over £3 million of Premium Bonds prizes that are unclaimed, with the largest amounting to £100,000.

Premium Bonds are the UK’s most popular form of savings provided by National Savings and Investments (NS&I), which has almost 850,000 overseas-based customers with nearly £750 million Premium Bonds to their names.

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Of these, almost 30,000 have been flagged as undeliverable to the provided address. Currently, a total of 63,604 prizes remain unclaimed overseas, with the total prize value worth £3,146,625.

Some overseas customers can avoid unclaimed prizes by registering for NS&I’s international payments service (IPS) to have their prizes paid directly into their international bank accounts.

NS&I is appealing customers to become more interactive by registering for the online and telephone service. Customers can also sign up to have their Premium Bonds prizes deposited directly into their current account. At present, only 25% of overseas Premium Bonds held have their associated prizes paid directly into a current account.

For data protection reasons, only countries where there are over 100,000 Premium Bonds customers can be identified to protect the winners’ anonymity. NS&I is appealing to Premium Bonds holders worldwide to check their Bonds and come forward to claim these prizes.

The largest unclaimed overseas Premium Bonds prize belongs to a female with a balance of just £6. In February 2007, one of her Bonds with the number 5ET395766 scooped £100,000. To date this prize remains uncollected.

The winner’s last known address was in Australia, which has the most unclaimed Premium Bonds prizes. NS&I has over 150,000 customers based in Australia, with almost 75 million Premium Bonds to their names. Currently, a total of 8,763 prizes remained unclaimed from this area of the world, with the total prize value worth £485,250.

There is no time limit for claiming prizes and each unclaimed prize is held until the rightful winner can be tracked down. The oldest unclaimed prize dates back to August 1960, where a male has a prize to the sum of £25 waiting to be claimed.

Premium Bonds prizes may go unclaimed as a result of NS&I not being informed of changes to a customer’s personal circumstances, such as if a customer has moved outside of the UK and not notified NS&I of the change in their address or if Premium Bonds were bought for them as a child and they have subsequently lost track of them. It is important, therefore, that customers keep NS&I up to date if anything changes.

Traditionally, prizes have been distributed in the post by warrant. However, for customers overseas, the cost of banking the warrant can be quite expensive. But now, customers living abroad can reduce the chances of their prizes becoming unclaimed by registering for NS&I’s international payments service (IPS)  to have Premium Bond prizes paid directly into their international bank account.

In addition, the service allows users to conveniently withdraw money from selected NS&I accounts and send the payment directly to international bank accounts in their name without going through multiple financial providers.

There are competitive exchange rates and no fees charged by NS&I and customers can register as many international accounts as they want, provided they are in their name.

‘It is likely that the winner of the £100,000 prize is unaware or she has forgotten that she has Premium Bonds. It can be a case of out of sight, out of mind for customers living abroad, so we want to make it as easy as possible for these customers and indeed, those at home to claim their prizes in an easy and secure way,’ said Jill Waters, NS&I’s assistant director for retail experience.

‘By customers using our international payments service they can claim their prize while abroad and have the money paid to their preferred bank accounts without any fees and reducing the risk of any future Premium Bonds wins going unclaimed,’ she explained.

‘We often find that prizes become unclaimed as a result of people moving house, or forgetting that Bonds have been bought for them as a child, or executors are unaware the Bonds are held when someone dies,’ she added.