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NS&I's 'Agent Million' on rain, terrible tea and unclaimed prizes
Speaking exclusively to Citywire Money, NS&I's 'Agent Million' urges premium bond holders to check they're not sitting on a winning number.
by Victoria Bischoff on Jun 15, 2012 at 11:43Follow @VBischoff
Known to the outside world only as ‘Agent Million’, it's her job to inform one unsuspecting premium bond holder every month that they are now a millionaire.
Here, speaking exclusively to Citywire Money, the mysterious agent million talks about her most memorable experiences from 11 years in the job, and reveals that there are a number of large prizes still waiting to be claimed.
You’ve won £1 million
Winning the £1 million jackpot is every premium bond holder’s dream – but if a stranger rocked up unannounced on your doorstep claiming you’ve won would you believe her?
No, probably not! But that’s just what will happen if you do win. Agent Million doesn’t write, she never calls ahead, she simply turns up – with a special ID to ensure you let her in.
Although, even with the identification papers many people – understandably – have a hard time believing it is not a joke or a scam.
'On one occasion when it was pouring with rain, a rather cautious winner refused to let me in and I ended up having to go through the whole process on the doorstep while trying to shelter under a hanging basket,' she said.
‘Some people are so shocked, we joke about having first aid training – which is why it helps to deliver the news calmly’, agent million added. 'We don’t run in waving a cheque about, I ask to speak to them in private and break it to them gently.’
Hot drinks, meanwhile, are also a big no-no. 'I’ve had a lot of dreadful cups of tea and coffee because they are so distracted and only float the tea bag for a second or pour in far too much milk. Soft drinks are a safer option!'
What are the winners like?
'They hug me a lot', Agent Million admitted. ‘Although it’s funny, because people assume it’s the women who always burst into tears but the men are just as soft – blubbering away.
‘Most people are very generous and spread the money round the family, though it depends on their age, as those at the start of their career usually want to invest it and make it last,’ she added.
Surprisingly, not many people have rushed out and bought an expensive car or something flashy. One woman said she went out for a new outfit but still bought something in the sale – although a winner several years ago did go out and buy a new plastic knee.
Agent Million, however, said one the best moments was telling someone who had a premium bond holding of just £17 they had won the jackpot. ‘The winner was living in a slightly run-down area and had forgotten they even had the bonds,’ she said.
Many winners also worry that people will treat them differently if they know they have won the jackpot, so we are very careful to keep their identity secret – we never tell anyone else and we don’t send a letter as it could be intercepted.
So, what happens next?
Well, from Agent Million’s experience, first you'll have a really bad night’s sleep, then you'll double check you didn't dream her visit, and finally you'll check that the winning number – which is available on the internet the day after the draw – is actually yours!
The money will then be transferred directly into your bank account – sadly, agent million won't hand over any cheques or huge suitcases of cash when she visits.
All jackpot winners are also offered a free, informal meeting with an independent financial adviser from Close Brothers Asset Management firm.
‘They don’t have to accept this offer, but this is a chance to ask things about gifting money, inheritance tax, keeping money safe – which is handy as many winners are not used to dealing with large amounts of money.’
Should the winner then continue to meet with the adviser, they will benefit from a slightly reduced rate.
There have been many instances where someone has found a premium bond in the back of a drawer they didn’t know they had – and in some cases won a prize.
Although there are no outstanding million pound prizes, there are currently over 814,000 other prizes worth more than £42 million – including several £100,000 sums – yet to be claimed, agent million said. And the good news is that there is no time limit on claiming prizes.
Highest unclaimed prizes
|Prize value||Winning bond number||Customer gender||Current holding||Month and year of draw||County||Country|
|£100,000||8LK522839||Female||£25||February 2007||Outer London|
|£100,000||50PB780494||Female||£280||September 2010||Greater Manchester|
Oldest unclaimed prize
|Prize value||Winning Bond number||Customer gender||Current holding||Month and year of draw||County|
|£25||VN199709||Male||£100||November 1957||South Yorkshire|
If you think you had a premium bond at some point but have lost it or can’t remember the number, if you write to NS&I with your name, date of birth, address and also previous name and address then they will carry out a search. If you do know the premium bond number there is also a prize checker online.
Unfortunately, Agent Million only visits the £1 million winners. For all other high-value prizes, a claims form will be dispatched the winner, while lower values are sent by cheque or if the winner has signed up online, paid directly into their bank account.
It is therefore vital that if you change your address you make sure you inform NS&I, she stressed.
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