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Key takeaways

  • U.S. savings bonds can be replaced if lost, stolen or destroyed by filling out FS Form 1048 and sending it to the Treasury Retail Securities Services.
  • The Treasury Hunt tool can also be used to locate lost bonds or missing interest payments.
  • Once the lost bonds are found and replaced or cashed, the original bonds must be returned to the Treasury Retail Securities Services as they become the property of the U.S. government.

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 $26 million in unredeemed savings bonds, and it can help you find yours.

How to find old savings bonds in your name

If you lose your EE or I savings bond, you can request a replacement or ask to cash the bond.

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. Then, take the following steps to recover your bond.

1. 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.

2. 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.

To use Treasury Hunt, enter a Social Security Number/Employee Identification Number or a person’s full name and state. If the search yields a match, it provides instructions on what steps to take next. Treasury Hunt is particularly useful for locating matured savings bonds that are no longer earning interest, and the tool is updated monthly with new data.

3. Fill out Form 1048

Another way to search for and recover lost savings bonds is to visit the TreasuryDirect website and fill out Form 1048: Claim for Lost, Stolen, or Destroyed United States Savings Bonds.

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.

4. 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.

5. 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 savbonds@fiscal.treasury.gov.

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, CFP, a financial advisor 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.

Risks of unclaimed savings bonds

Failing to claim or losing track of your savings bonds can come with financial consequences. Here’s what’s at stake if you don’t redeem it:

  • Loss of value: Unclaimed savings bonds don’t earn interest, which means you’re missing out on potential returns.
  • Risk of theft or fraud: Without proper documentation and record-keeping, it’s possible that someone else could cash in your bond.
  • Diminished purchasing power: The longer you wait to redeem a savings bond, the more the purchasing power of its return erodes over time. The money claimed can be reinvested in a high-yield savings account or other investment vehicle and generate passive income.

Bottom line

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. (Here’s a look at Bankrate’s list of the best municipal bond funds.)

–Bankrate’s René Bennett and freelance writer Kevin Payne contributed to a previous version of this article.