William Galvin, Massachusetts’ top securities regulator.

A probe by the Massachusetts Securities Division has found that hundreds of retirees in the state are owed pensions by MetLife. The state’s securities division said Thursday that it has now expanded its pension payment investigation to include Prudential, Transamerica, Principal Financial and MassMutual.

Commonwealth Secretary William Galvin, the state’s top securities regulator, announced last December that he was opening a probe into how many retired workers had not received their MetLife pension payments after the life insurance company announced that it was unable to locate thousands of retired workers.

According to Galvin’s office, MetLife inherited the employees’ pensions from their former employers.

The firms in the expanded probe have also purchased plans from corporate employers, Galvin’s office told ThinkAdvisor on Thursday. “The plans that have been bought out seem to have the most issues with maintaining records and keeping track of individuals,” a spokesperson for his office said.

Through its own searches, the Securities Division said Thursday that it has thus far been able to identify “better addresses” for a majority of the Massachusetts retirees affected.

“My office was able to locate many of these retirees in just two months. My primary goal is to get these workers their hard-earned retirement benefits,” Galvin said. “Once that has been accomplished, my office will seek to establish what meaningful efforts MetLife has made in the past to locate and pay these people, many of whom are likely living on fixed incomes.”

Galvin said that his office plans to require that “procedures are put in place so that this problem does not happen in the future.”

Some of the retirees involved are now deceased, Galvin’s office said, and their beneficiaries are likely entitled to payments from MetLife.

In letters to the pensioners located by his office, Galvin assured them he’d work with MetLife to ensure they “are quickly reimbursed for your hard earned and well deserved retirement payments.”

— Check out MetLife: We Did Fine in the Fourth Quarter on ThinkAdvisor.