I'm devoting this week's column to questions about getting your hands on unredeemed savings bonds. I did a GMA story and ABCNews.com article on this topic a couple of weeks ago now, and I continue to receive questions about how to find and claim them. Obviously, this is a hot topic. Actually, I already knew that. About five years ago, I ran a column here about unredeemed savings bonds and I still get emails asking for more information (mostly from people who failed to read the column carefully). So here goes. Answers to your questions about matured, unredeemed savings bonds that you may be able to claim.
Q: In the 1960s, we purchased bonds and would like to find out if they have been cashed. They were in my mother-in-law's and our names.
A: You should search the Treasury Hunt website under both your mother-in-law's Social Security number and your own.
Q: I cant find where to click to put my information in to find out if I have money from old savings bonds on the segment you ran.
A: It is a little confusing. We tried to instruct people on how to find the search box, but apparently failed in your case. Let me offer more details. Go to the Treasury Hunt website. You will then have to scroll down near the bottom of the page. You will see an orange heading that says "Check Treasury Hunt." Below that is a blue box that says "Start Search." Click it and search by Social Security number.
Q: What year did saving bonds first come out? And how about finding things as far back as 1913-1936.
A: Best I can tell, the first U.S.savings bond was issued in 1935. (There may have been other bonds before that called "war" bonds or "liberty" bonds.) The Treasury Hunt website only goes back to 1974, because that is when purchasers were first required to provide Social Security numbers when buying savings bonds. For bonds older than that, you can request a hand search by calling 800-553-2663.
Q: Looking through some papers from my in-laws, I found several bond numbers Where can I find out if they are good? Thank you for your help.
A: Treasury has a helpful tool on its website called the "Bond Wizard." Since you have serial numbers, you can type them into the wizard and find out how much the bonds are worth, whether they have matured yet, and so on.
Q: I had three children who died from Battens in their 20s. Most recently, my son, Michael W. Pinder, died April 28, 2010. Here's my question: For my daughters, Mindy and Marcy, by providing a death certificate, we were able to cash them in. But now my credit union directed us to forms I don't understand. It's upsetting filling out forms that don't cover what I need. I'm not good at navigating the Internet. Need to take care of this. Any help?
A: First of all, I'm so sorry for your loss. What an unbearable tragedy for a mother. Messing around on the Internet is too much for you to take in a state of grief. So I suggest an old-fashioned tool: the telephone. You can call the Treasury Department's savings bond "finders" at 800-553-2663. They will walk you through what to do.
Q: My parents passed away many years ago when I was very young (1963, 1969). I would like to search for unclaimed funds such as savings bonds but do not have their Social Security numbers. How can I get them?
A: The Social Security Administration can help you with that. You may have to provide a death certificate and proof of your relationship to your parents. Call 800-772-1213.
Q: I went on unclaimed.org and the site asked for a credit card to charge $4.95 monthly while I searched. On TreasuryHunt.com, the site asks for your Social Security number, something we are all warned against giving online. These requests don't seem right.
A: Whoops! Joan, you made a common mistake: substituting the wrong suffixes in your website searches. I assure you that Unclaimed.org is a free website run by the states. I suspect you typed in .com instead of .org. One reason I'm pretty sure my suspicion is correct is that you accidentally asked about TreasuryHunt.com in your question. In that case, you typed in .com when the site is actually a .gov because it is a government site. But I thank you for sharing your errors, because I am sure you are not alone, and that plenty of other folks made the same mistakes.