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How to figure out if any of the $29 billion in unredeemed US savings bonds belongs to you

Digitally restored war propaganda poster. This vintage World War Two poster features a smiling family of four looking up at an American Flag. It declares - Back Your Future With U.S. Savings Bonds.
Digitally restored war propaganda poster. This vintage World War Two poster features a smiling family of four looking up at an American Flag. It declares - Back Your Future With U.S. Savings Bonds.John Parrot/Getty Images/Stocktrek Images

Here’s how to figure out if any unredeemed US savings bonds belong to you and what steps you can take to be reunited with your money.

Where should I start?

Try entering your Social Security number on Treasury Hunt, an online search tool run by the Treasury Department. The department has been digitizing its old savings bonds records, and if your information has been uploaded to the site, you should be able to see a record of your savings bonds.

I didn’t find anything. Does that mean I’m out of luck?

Not necessarily.

Some savings bond records haven’t been uploaded to the site yet. And Social Security numbers weren’t required for bonds purchased before 1974, which a Treasury Department report says make up about 12 percent of those that are unredeemed.

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Also, bonds weren’t always purchased in the name of the recipient. If a grandparent, aunt or uncle bought one for you as a gift, they often used their own information for the purchase.

OK, so how do I check for one of those bonds, particularly if a relative no longer is alive?

If you have the Social Security number of your deceased relative, the process is straightforward. Just use it to look up savings bonds under their name on Treasury Hunt.

But again, this only works if your relative’s records have been uploaded.

What if I don’t have their Social Security number?

Now things get more difficult. You can ask a family member if it’s recorded somewhere. You also could try looking for a death certificate, which will have the number, or other official documents.

If those don’t yield results, finding this information will likely be a long and complicated process. You can make an electronic request to the Social Security Administration for a deceased person’s Social Security record or fill out and mail a form called SSA-711. But it might take weeks to get a response.

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What if I already found my savings bond?

If you have your paper record, you can cash in your bond at most banks. If the bank can’t redeem your bond, you can mail a request of payment directly to the Treasury Department. Depending on the kind of savings bond, there may also be additional forms you must send. Filling out the forms is a complex process, and it is unclear when you will receive a response.

The Treasury Department has an online guide that contains more information.

How do I cash in someone else’s savings bond?

That also involves a form. Fill out and mail form 1048 from the Treasury Department. It requires a lot of information about the bond owner, including their social security number, full name, the address they listed on the savings bond and your relationship to the owner.

You might also have to send in other forms, so you should check the Treasury Department’s guide for more information.

This all sounds really complicated. Can the government make this process any easier?

That’s the point of the Unclaimed Savings Bond Act. It would require the Treasury Department to provide state governments with savings bond information, such as serial numbers and names and addresses of owners. States have unclaimed property programs that supporters of the bill said are better equipped than the federal government to reunite bond owners with their money.

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But for now, the information needed to redeem savings bonds is stored by the Treasury Department. If you need assistance with the process, you can call the Treasury Department’s help line at 844-284-2676 or e-mail Treasury.Direct@fiscal.treasury.gov.


Neya Thanikachalam can be reached at neya.thanikachalam@globe.com.