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Check behind the sofa: €2.15m in Prize Bond prizes are still unclaimed

Over €2 million in prizes are unclaimed – and the State doesn’t have any plans to keep the money for itself.

An artist's impression of how €2.15 million might look in a briefcase.
An artist's impression of how €2.15 million might look in a briefcase.
Image: Sergii Figurnyi via Shutterstock

IF YOU HAVE some old Prize Bonds sitting in a drawer or filed away in a cupboard, it might be worth digging them out.

Finance minister Michael Noonan has revealed that over €2 million in prizes from Prize Bond draws from over the last decade – and in some cases, even longer – remain unclaimed.

While the holders of winning Prize Bonds are usually notified directly whenever one of their entries has won a prize, few people remember to inform An Post about any change of address – meaning notifications are often sent to addresses where the holder will never get them.

As a result, millions of euro worth of prizes have gone unclaimed over the years.

Despite the existence of the Prize Bonds scheme as an unusual way for the State to borrow money – taking a loan from the public, on the basis that the lender could win a nice prize for doing so – Noonan says there are no plans to assume ownership of any unclaimed prizes.

In response to a written Dáil question from Róisín Shortall, Noonan said unclaimed prizes were still considered to be a liability on the part of the National Treasury Management Agency, the body responsible for managing the government’s public debt.

This means the NTMA always sets aside cash to deal with any claims for unpaid prizes – with the money saved in a Post Office Savings Bank account, instead of being stashed in a dormant accounts fund that might make it more difficult to find.

Around €300,000 in prizes from draws held in 2012 remain unclaimed, out of a total prize fund of €46 million, with a slowly decreasing amount of unpaid prizes from previous years.

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For 2003, the last full calendar year for which figures are available, prizes of €70,000 are still unpaid – but there are around €730,000 in prizes from before 2003 which have still not been claimed.

Noonan said unclaimed prizes were still considered to be the property of the Prize Bond holder – and if the holder was deceased, the money would be paid to their estate if claimed.

The ‘unclaimed’ prizes do not include prizes which have been awarded in the last six months, so the true figure for prizes unknown to their winner could be even higher.

Holders of Prize Bonds can visit the appropriate section of StateSavings.ie to enter the numbers of their bonds and see if any of their bonds have accrued prizes they don’t know about.

Read: Prize Bond prizes to fall as cost of borrowing goes down

More: 8 things you (probably) didn’t know about Prize Bonds

About the author:

Gavan Reilly

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