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Do you have any Premium Bonds? Do you know where they are? Are they up-to-date with your correct and current contact details?

These are just some of the questions to ask if you think you might be due part of the £54M in unclaimed Premium Bond prizes. According to the Government’s National Savings and Investments agency (NS&I), there are 1.3 million Premium Bond Prizes which have not been claimed by their rightful winners.

The biggest of these prizes are worth £100,000 each, and there are five of them currently unclaimed. The winners of these five prizes live, or have at some point lived, in London, Manchester, Lothian, Hereford and Worcester, and Australia.

As well as these big winners, there are hundreds of thousands of smaller cash prizes sitting unclaimed. NS&I tries to contact winners directly, and conducts searches for bigger prize-winners, but it is not always successful. In many cases holders of winning Premium Bonds have moved house and forgotten to update their contact details, or they may have died with their Premium Bonds forming part of their estate.

The good news is that, unlike the National Lottery, there is no deadline for bond holders to claim their winnings. Even if you won years ago and didn’t realise it, you could still claim the money today.

NS&I made the announcement of £54M in unclaimed winnings to coincide with the 60th anniversary of Premium Bonds first going on sale on November 1st, 1956. Premium Bonds are a type of savings investment. The Government pays interest on the money invested (currently 1.25% annually), but instead of going directly to investors the interest is paid into a prize fund pot.

Each £1 invested buys a unique Bond number and once a month a draw is made by ERNIE – the Premium Bonds’ famous ‘Electronic Random Number Indicator Equipment’ ­– which generates numbers at random. Prizes in the monthly draw range from £25 to two jackpot prizes of £1M each. Premium Bond holders who register through NS&I’s website will be notified by email if they win and prizes can be paid directly into their bank account.

Winners who are not registered will be sent a warrant (similar to a cheque) through the post, while those who win high value prizes over £5,000 will be sent a claim form to fill in and return before the prize is paid out. Those who win the million-pound jackpot will be visited in person by a representative of NS&I.

The minimum investment in Premium Bonds is £100 and the maximum is £50,000, and every £1 bond number has a separate and equal chance of winning in the monthly draw. Obviously, the more bonds you hold, the greater your chances of winning. Parents and guardians can also buy Premium Bonds on behalf of children under 16.

Because Premium Bonds are backed by HM Treasury, the money invested is 100% secure, unlike some other investments which may offer higher returns but at a greater risk. The bonds can be cashed in at any time and any Premium Bond winnings are also tax-free.

Anyone wanting to inquire about unclaimed prizes and whether they might have won can register online at the NS&I website or write to: Premium Bonds, NS&I, Glasgow, G55 1SB. There is also a free UK phone line on 08085 007 007.

For full information about Premium Bonds, including how to invest in them, click here.

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