Pension-finding tool used 1.2m times – how to track down your share of £20bn
There are billions of pounds swirling around in lost pensions and figures released to MSE by the Government show its free Pension Tracing Service tool has been used 1.26 million times in the first nine and a half months of this year.
This figure has already surpassed the total for the whole of 2017 and with an estimated £20 billion in lost pensions out there, according to new stats from the Pensions Policy Institute, and an average pot worth almost £13,000, it's worth checking yours now.
This is particularly pertinent if you've changed jobs or moved home without notifying your pension provider. It's easy to lose track and the institute reckons 6.6 million people have lost touch with more than one pot. Plus, the number of lost pensions is predicted to grow massively with automatic enrolment in workplace pensions and people moving between jobs more often.
What is the Pension Tracing Service & how do I use it?
The Government's Pension Tracing Service is designed to put you in touch with the administrator of your lost pension. It was used 1.23 million times last year, with 1.26 million enquiries already this year. It's worth noting that it won't tell you upfront whether you have a pension or what its value is – it'll tell you who to check with.
There are firms out there offering to find your pots and show you where to invest the money, but this tool from the Government is completely free. Here's how to use it online:
- Step 1: Open the tool and select the pension type you're looking for. You can search for a workplace pension (a pension an employer has set up for you), a personal pension (a pension you've set up yourself), or a civil service, NHS, teacher or armed forces pension.
- Step 2: Enter your search info. If looking for a workplace pension, you'll be asked for your employer's name. If it's a personal pension, you'll need to enter your pension provider's name. If it's an NHS, civil service, teaching or armed forces pension, you'll be given a link to contact the specific pension enquiry service directly.
- Step 3: Jot down the pension administrator's contact details. Once you've clicked on the relevant company or pension, you'll be provided with a name, address and possibly email or phone number for the administrator of the pension scheme you may have paid in to.
- Step 4: Contact the administrator directly. You now need to write to or call the administrator to see if it can find your pension, and if so, how much it's worth. If you're writing, include as much useful information as you can – in particular your name, date of birth, the rough dates you believe you had the pension and your national insurance number.
The Pension Tracing Service isn't a universal system – you can't assume that just because a pension or employer isn't listed, it doesn't exist. But it's a quick, free and easy way to check.
What happens if I can't get online?
You can also request contact details of your pension provider(s) from the Pension Tracing Service by phone or post.
You can call 0800 731 0193, Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm (or 0800 731 0176 by textphone). Or write to The Pension Service 9, Mail Handling Site A, Wolverhampton, WV98 1LU.
What happens if I find more than one old pension pot?
The Department for Work and Pensions recommends that those aged over 50 who manage to trace pension savings should contact the free Government service Pension Wise to discuss their options.
If you're under 50 or unable to use Pension Wise for any other reason you can also contact The Pensions Advisory Service for more information.
What should I do to make sure I don't lose my pension?
The simplest way to avoid losing track of pensions is to keep all records of them you have and let providers know if you move home.