Uncashed Savings Bonds Waiting for You?

As Americans watch their retirement accounts and investment portfolios atrophy, I thought I'd offer an antidote: There could be thousands of dollars worth of U.S. savings bonds in your family's name that you've forgotten to cash in.

Here's a consumer quiz for you. True or false? "You should hang on to U.S. savings bonds as long as possible." The answer is false. Today's U.S. savings bonds mature in 30 years. After that, they stop going up in value. (There was a time when the government also issued 40-year bonds.) Unfortunately, millions of Americans either don't realize this or have forgotten they even have savings bonds.

Click Here to Ask Elisabeth Your Consumer Questions About This Topic or Any Other Consumer Issue

There are 25 million U.S. savings bonds that have never been cashed in. If you were to line them up end to end, they would stretch all the way from Washington, D.C., to San Francisco. The total value of all those orphan bonds is about $9 billion. Most of us could use a little "found money" right now. At the very least, you'll want to get that money working for you again. The U.S. Treasury Department has launched a campaign to help people claim their bonds.

Barbara S. heard about the campaign. She had been holding onto a savings bond for 32 years. It had a face value of $500. A family member paid the discounted rate of $375 for it back in the 1970s, and gave it to Barbara as a gift.

Barbara had no idea how much it would be worth. When she cashed it in, she got a pleasant surprise: $2,800.

DO YOUR HOMEWORK:

1. Check around your house to see if you can find any evidence of uncashed savings bonds. If you find the paper certificates, check them to see if they've matured yet.

2. To double-check whether there is an outstanding savings bond in your name, go to the Treasury Department's Web site here.

3. If you feel fairly certain you own an outstanding savings bond, but it's not listed on the Web site, you can write to the Treasury Department and ask the agency to search old microfiche records by hand.

-- This embed didnt make it to copy for story id = 6158021. -- This embed didnt make it to copy for story id = 6158021. -- This embed didnt make it to copy for story id = 6158021. -- This embed didnt make it to copy for story id = 6158021. -- This embed didnt make it to copy for story id = 6158021. -- This embed didnt make it to copy for story id = 6158021. -- This embed didnt make it to copy for story id = 6158021. -- This embed didnt make it to copy for story id = 6158021. -- This embed didnt make it to copy for story id = 6158021. -- This embed didnt make it to copy for story id = 6158021. -- This embed didnt make it to copy for story id = 6158021. -- This embed didnt make it to copy for story id = 6158021. -- This embed didnt make it to copy for story id = 6158021. -- This embed didnt make it to copy for story id = 6158021. -- This embed didnt make it to copy for story id = 6158021.
Join the Discussion
You are using an outdated version of Internet Explorer. Please click here to upgrade your browser in order to comment.
blog comments powered by Disqus
 
You Might Also Like...
See It, Share It
PHOTO: Left, Sabrina Allen, 4, is shown in this photo provided by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children; right, Sabrina Allen, 17, is seen in this undated handout photo.
National Center for Missing and Exploited Children|Courtesy of PI Phillip Klein
Kelly Ripa
Seth Poppel/Yearbook Library
PHOTO: Earths moon is pictured as observed in visible light, left, topography, center, and the GRAIL gravity gradients, right.
NASA/GSFC/JPL/Colorado School of Mines/MIT
PHOTO: A long-distance bus station is filled with passengers at the start of Golden Week on Oct. 1, 2014 in Zhengzhou, China.
ChinaFotoPress/ChinaFotoPress via Getty Images