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U.S. savings bonds historically have been considered a risk-free investment with tax benefits and no ongoing fees. Bonds were commonly given from parents or grandparents to kids for birthdays, graduations or other milestones. U.S. savings bonds today are only available for purchase electronically, but you may have received paper ones during your childhood — and it’s possible you have since forgotten where you stashed them years ago.
If you’ve lost track of your savings bonds, don’t fret, the U.S. Treasury Department says there is $29 billion in unredeemed savings bonds, and it can help you find yours.
The best way to find old savings bonds
Start with the information you know about your lost U.S. savings bond, such as whose name is on it and who bought it for you. The more information you’re able to provide, the easier the process.
- Review the information you know
- There are several types of information that can expedite finding your bond:
- Bond serial number
- Issue date (or estimate of when you think the bond was purchased)
- Bond face value
- Number of bonds missing (if more than one)
- Name and Social Security number of the person on the bond
- Name and Social Security number of the person who bought the bond
Most likely, you won’t have access to all of the details unless written records were kept by you or the person who purchased the bonds. The Treasury can likely find the bond records as long as you know some of the details.
Use the Treasury Hunt tool
An online tool from the Treasury can help you determine if you have any lost bonds, before submitting a recovery claim. “A shortcut you can take to find missing savings bonds is to head to treasuryhunt.gov, which shows matured, uncashed savings bonds,” says Leslie H. Tayne, founder of the Tayne Law Group.
If the Treasury Hunt search brings up one or more bonds, you’ll be provided with an electronic form to complete and email to start the process of receiving either replacement bonds or payment for them.
Fill out Form 1048
Tayne recommends filling out as much of Form 1048 as possible. “Try to obtain the Social Security numbers of the purchaser and estimated time frame of the purchase,” she says.
Provide a certified signature
Once Form 1048 is filled out, it needs to be signed in the presence of a notary or authorized certifying officer, which can be done at a local bank or credit union. You’ll need to provide identification, and then sign the form and have it stamped by the institution’s certifying officer or notary. It may help to contact your financial institution in advance to confirm they have a certifying officer or notary, as well as to set up an appointment.
Mail your completed form
Once the form is completed and signed, you can mail it directly to the Treasury at:
Treasury Retail Securities Services
P.O. Box 9150
Minneapolis, MN 55480-9150
Lost saving bond requests can take several weeks to process. To track your request, reach the Treasury by phone at 844-284-2676 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Decide what to do with your old savings bonds
Part of filling out Form 1048 is to choose what you want to do with your savings bonds if they are found. You have two options: “You can request a replacement bond or a payment by direct deposit if you no longer want to invest in the bonds,” says Justin Pritchard, a financial adviser at Approach Financial. Which option is best is up to you, but the bond’s age may be a determining factor. If the bond no longer pays interest, you may have to accept payment instead of receiving a replacement bond.
Once you receive replacement bonds or payment for your lost bonds, the original bonds are no longer yours. They now belong to the government. If the lost bonds are found, they need to be returned to the Treasury.
Losing a savings bond doesn’t mean the money paid for it or the interest earned on it is lost. As long as you’re able to provide some necessary information, the Treasury can help locate it. The good news is that reissued bonds are now in electronic form, and they can be accessed anytime through a TreasuryDirect online account.
–Freelance writer Kevin Payne contributed to a previous version of this article.