“I found an old Premium Bonus, but NS&I won’t tell me if I won a £1 million prize”

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Dear Customer,

My husband and I were going through some old papers and found an old £5 Premium Voucher with my name on it. The date stamp was my 21st birthday, so it must have been a gift. It would have been issued in my maiden name.

I called NS&I to see if he had won anything in the last 60 years. I was told that I would have to update the NS&I records to reflect my last name change and also my different address. They asked me to send a copy of my marriage certificate and driver’s license to prove who I was. I duly did so, and in response, NS&I sent me a list of my bond holdings. However, the bond in question was not listed.

He still hasn’t told me if the bonus had ever won anything. One of my addresses had undergone an apartment renovation, so it was unlikely that all the mail sent there would have reached me. Does NS&I lack transparency on unclaimed bonus prizes and ever go out of their way to track down big winners?

– AE, via email

Dear reader,

He tried using the official NS&I bond checker, but it only allowed him to search for prizes in their list of bondholders. It has left you wondering if this bonus you received on your 21st birthday in 1958 could have made you a millionaire without your knowing it. You imagined how different your life could have been with an extra million in the bank, mentally moving to bigger houses, traveling the world and deciding which of your loved ones to treat.

Although unlikely, it wouldn’t be the first time someone with a small stake in Premium Bonuses has hit the jackpot. In July 2004, a woman from Newham, East London, won the £1 million jackpot on a £3 bond she had bought in February 1959. She had a total stake of £17 and when she bought the bond, the top prize was only £1,000.

Sadly though, this little bubble of hope that you had been clinging to has now burst. It was not my pleasure to break the news that she had no outstanding prizes to claim on any bonuses, including the £5 she received on her 21st birthday.

I know you’ve been harboring suspicions that NS&I might be conveniently withholding your prize money and perhaps deliberately making it difficult for you, and others, to claim it. But contrary to your fears, NS&I actually posts a list of unclaimed prizes dating back to 1957 on its website once a year. It has also successfully tracked every one of the 494 jackpot winners since the million pound prize was introduced in 1994.

I’m sorry I didn’t give you the news you expected. However, you say that now you have peace of mind, at least.

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