Tracking Down Missing Savings Bonds

You have a couple of ways to locate lost or misplaced savings bonds.

I am pretty sure my parents purchased a $500 savings bond for my daughter when she was born. Unfortunately, they have passed on, and I don’t know where it is. How can I check to see if there is one out there?

See Our Slide Show: 8 Places to Find Free Money

The Bureau of the Public Debt can help you track down lost savings bonds. Start by using the Treasury Hunt tool (opens in new tab) to search for any Series E bonds issued in 1974 or later that have reached maturity and are no longer earning interest, or savings bonds that were returned to the Treasury as undeliverable, or other registered Treasury notes and bonds.

The Treasury Hunt tool is not comprehensive, however. If you don’t find the savings bond in that database, go to TreasuryDirect.gov (opens in new tab) and download Form 1048 (opens in new tab), Claim for Lost, Stolen or Destroyed U.S. Savings Bonds. Fill out as much information as you can, including the bond owner’s name, address and Social Security number; the approximate issue date; the serial number, if available; and any other details about the bond. (If the bond was received as a gift, the form asks for both the bond owner’s and the purchaser’s Social Security number.) Then go to a bank and have the form certified, and send it to the address listed on the form based on the type of bond. (You may be able to narrow down what type of bond it is based on the time frame. For example, H bonds were last issued in December 1979, and HH bonds were issued from 1980 through August 2004. See the History of the Savings Bonds Program table (opens in new tab) for a list of dates when each type of bond was available.)

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If you had the serial number, the Bureau of the Public Debt would be able to track down and reissue your bonds in as few as three to four weeks. But otherwise, the process could take months. For more information about tracking down other kinds of lost cash, see 8 Places to Find Free Money.

Billions of dollars in savings bonds have stopped earning interest but haven’t been cashed. For more information about the number of years each type of savings bond earns interest, see Treasury Securities That Have Stopped Earning Interest (opens in new tab).

Kimberly Lankford
Contributing Editor, Kiplinger's Personal Finance

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.