Pension detectives are trying to track down 250,000 expats who have disappeared leaving money stashed in UK retirement savings.
A fortune of around £850,000 is locked in bank and finance company vaults waiting to be reunited with lost savers, says money tracing firm FindMyLostPension.com
The service is free and funded by pension providers to help locate lost pension savers with their money.
The web site has pored over data from pension firms and has revealed expats in Europe, the Middle East, Far East, South Africa, Australia, the Caribbean and North America have unclaimed pension funds.
The amounts vary from between pay outs of £2,000 to £30,000 a year, plus tax-free lump sums of up to £40,000 waiting for some lucky claimants.
Free tracing services
The web site’s Paul Lalwan said: “The internet is a new global search tool for helping financial firms pair up cash in their accounts with lost savers. Until recently, their searches have been limited to the UK, but new techniques and technological advances mean the internet can now look further and faster for these people than ever before.
“The new UK pension freedoms mean this money is available to many pension savers or their surviving partners at the age of 55, which gives us a 10 year start on looking for them compared to the old rules.”
The web site only deals with workplace or private pensions that need reuniting with their owners.
The government runs a separate scheme for expats who have not claimed the state pension and other workplace pensions which is also free.
“The best way to find lost money is through a free service,” said a government spokesman. “Many other services and lawyers will act for you, but they will take a slice of the cash and they basically do the same job as the free services.
The government’s pension tracing service has had a huge surge in inquiries since the change in pension rules.
The number of staff has been tripled to 48 and handled more than 140,000 calls from retirement savers about lost pensions in 2014.
Jill Scott of the Pension Tracing Service, said: “It’s not unusual for people to lose track of their money because so many of us switch jobs and addresses regularly nowadays. The most common reason for missing out on a pension is simply not telling an employer about a new address.”