Savings bonds issued by the U.S. government help fund federal spending but also are a way to build savings over time. These types of bonds used to be a popular no-risk investment, but purchases have all but disappeared over the past two decades. Today, U.S savings bonds are only available for purchase electronically.
Perhaps you recall receiving U.S. savings bonds as a gift from your parents or grandparents when you were growing up. Since most kids don’t have a safe deposit box at the bank or a safe in their closet, there’s a good chance you have no clue what you did with them. If you’ve lost track of your savings bonds, don’t fret. The U.S. Treasury Department can help you find them. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to find a lost savings bond.
The best way to find old savings bonds
Review the information you know
Start with the information you do know about your lost U.S. savings bond, such as who’s name is on it and who bought it for you. The more information you can remember, the easier the process becomes. Information about your bond that can speed up the process includes:
Bond serial number
Issue date (or estimate of when you think bond was purchased)
Bond face value
Number of bonds missing (if more than one)
Name and Social Security number of person on bond and Social Security
Name and Social Security number of person who bought 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 U.S. Treasury can likely find the bond records as long as you know some of the details.
According to Leslie H. Tayne, founder of the Tayne Law Group, you can determine if you have any lost bonds before submitting anything. “A shortcut you can take to find missing savings bonds is to head to treasuryhunt.gov, which shows matured, uncashed savings bonds,” Tayne says.
Treasury Hunt is an online tool available through the Treasury. The tool was discontinued in 2017 but reintroduced in 2019.
Fill out Form 1048
To search for lost savings bonds, go to the U.S. Treasury’s website at treasurydirect.gov and fill out Form 1048, which is titled “Claim for Lost, Stolen, or Destroyed United States Savings Bonds.
“Fill out as much of the form as possible,” Tayne says. “Try to obtain the Social Security numbers of the purchaser and estimated timeframe of the purchase.”
Verify for your form
Once you fill out your form to the best of your ability, don’t just sign it. It needs to be certified. Justin Pritchard, a financial adviser at Approach Financial, says this isn’t easy to do. “The hardest part of the process is getting your signature certified,” Pritchard says. “You’ll need a signature guarantee or another acceptable form of certification to complete the process. Unfortunately, a notarized document is not sufficient.”
To get your form verified head to your local financial institution, such as a bank or credit union. There you will sign the form and have it certified by the institution’s certifying officer, not a notary. Contact your bank or other financial institution ahead of time to find out if they have a certifying officer and set up an appointment.
Mail your completed form
Once the form is complete and verified, you can mail it directly to the U.S. Treasury Department at:
Treasury Retail Securities Services
P.O. Box 214
Minneapolis, MN 55480-0214
Lost saving bond requests may take several weeks to process. To track your request, you can call the Treasury at 844-284-2676 or by email at Treasury.Direct@fiscal.treasury.gov.
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 available. “You can request a replacement bond or a payment by direct deposit if you no longer want to invest in the bonds,” Pritchard says. The best option is up to you, with the bond’s age also a determining factor. If the bond no longer pays interest, you will have to accept payment.
Keep in mind that 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 you end up finding the lost bonds, you need to return them to the U.S. Treasury Department.
Losing a savings bond doesn’t mean it’s money lost. The U.S. Treasury Department can help you as long as you can provide some of the necessary information. The good news is that reissued bonds are now in electronic form. You can access your bonds anytime through your TreasuryDirect online account.