Windfall: Clare Rand discovered that she had £360 of Santander shares
Former customers of demutualised insurers and building societies are being reunited with windfall shares they had long forgotten about.
Companies are now appointing ‘detectives’ to track them down.
Clare Rand, from Hertford, is among those who have received a pleasant surprise out of the blue.
She was told she owns Santander shares currently worth £360, and is entitled to missed dividends totalling £47.
It was not until a letter arrived at her mother’s home in the Scottish Highlands that she learned about the forgotten investment.
The letter, from a company called ProSearch, informed her that it had been appointed by a ‘major corporation’ to locate her ‘in connection with unclaimed entitlements’.
At first Clare, who works in the media industry, was suspicious.
She says: ‘I thought it was yet another scam and that someone was trying to get hold of my personal details so they could defraud me.’
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The good news was that ProSearch is legitimate and is used by many companies to trace either lost customers or shareholders. But it does take a portion of the forgotten cash it tracks down as a fee.
Clare turned to The Mail on Sunday for help. We soon established the forgotten shares were with Santander.
Clare says: ‘I remember receiving 250 shares in the building society Alliance & Leicester when it floated on the stock market in 1997.
‘But ten years ago it was taken over by Santander and I just assumed the shares vanished at that point. Then I moved house and I forgot about them.’
Instead of responding to ProSearch, The Mail on Sunday advised Clare to contact Santander’s share registrar Equiniti.
It confirmed she owned shares worth £360. That is not as much as the £3,000 they were worth before the Santander takeover, but a nice windfall all the same.
Normally, Equiniti levies a charge for reissuing dividend cheques but it agreed to waive them for Clare’s £47 missed income.
Clare says: ‘I cannot complain as I did not even remember that I had the shares until ProSearch came along. Thankfully, the letter turned out to be a nice surprise and not a scam as I first thought.’
If you believe you have shares with Santander following the Alliance & Leicester takeover but have lost contact with them, speak to Equiniti on 0371 384 2000 stating your name, date of birth and address.