I received some savings bonds as a prize in the 1980s, but I haven’t been able to find them. Is there any way to track them down now, and are they still earning interest?
First, see whether you can dig up any information about the bonds using the Bureau of the Public Debt’s Treasury Hunt system. This system doesn’t contain a record of all savings bonds, but it does provide information on series E bonds issued in 1974 or later (all series E bonds have matured and no longer earn interest). If it finds a match, it will ask you to leave your contact information, and someone at the Bureau of the Public Debt will follow up.
If you don’t find a match through Treasury Hunt, you may have had other types of savings bonds. Fill out Form 1048, listing your name and Social Security number, the approximate dates on which you believe you received the bonds (or at least a range of years), and any other information you may have, such as the bond series (EE or I, for example) and denomination. If you don’t have all of this information, fill out as much of the form as you can. Then print it out and mail it to the Bureau of the Public Debt (you can fill out the form online, but there’s no way to submit the information online yet).
If the bonds have matured, the Bureau of the Public Debt will give you cash; otherwise, the bureau will reissue the bond. All series E and H bonds have matured. Series EE bonds mature 30 years after the issue date, so any of those bonds issued in April 1982 or earlier have matured. Series HH bonds mature in 20 years, so any of those bonds issued in April 1992 or earlier have matured. See the information page on Treasury Direct for more information about savings bonds that have matured.
As the "Ask Kim" columnist for Kiplinger's Personal Finance, Lankford receives hundreds of personal finance questions from readers every month. She is the author of Rescue Your Financial Life (McGraw-Hill, 2003), The Insurance Maze: How You Can Save Money on Insurance -- and Still Get the Coverage You Need (Kaplan, 2006), Kiplinger's Ask Kim for Money Smart Solutions (Kaplan, 2007) and The Kiplinger/BBB Personal Finance Guide for Military Families. She is frequently featured as a financial expert on television and radio, including NBC's Today Show, CNN, CNBC and National Public Radio.