Did you ever cash those savings bonds you got as a kid?
The funny thing about giving a U.S. savings bond as a gift for a child's birthday or other big event is that it doesn't hurt to nudge the child who turned into a grownup and ask, "Hey, did you ever cash that bond?"
Billions of dollars in savings bonds have stopped earning interest but haven't been cashed. We're now talking about savings bonds issued in January 1984 or earlier that reached final maturity after 30 years.
Other bonds issued in 1984 will stop earning interest later this year, depending on the month in which they were issued. Currently, there are about 47 million unredeemed, matured savings bonds worth $16.1 billion.
You can do your own bonds search via the U.S. Treasury Department website at www.treasuryhunt.gov. When you use Treasury Hunt, you plug in your Social Security number and other information online to find savings bonds that reached final maturity and are no longer earning interest. The Treasury Hunt program can find bonds that were issued in 1974 and later, not earlier. Social Security numbers were not required on bonds until 1974.
A $100 Series E savings bond issued in January 1965 would be valued at $936.44 if cashed now. Or an uncashed $100 Series E issued in May 1941 would be worth $362.36.
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5 tips for finding lost savings bonds
• Search online through www.treasurydirect.gov or www.treasuryhunt.gov.
• If you find out about a lost bond during a Treasury Hunt search, you'll need to submit a Form PD F 1048 to do more research. (You'll also need to file that form if you think you lost bonds issued in the 1940s, 1950s, 1960s or early 1970s, bonds that won't be found via Treasury Hunt.)
• If you submit Form PD F 1048, which can be found at www.treasurydirect.gov, you will need to provide information about dates of purchase, names on bonds and other pertinent data. Most records for registered Treasury notes and bonds can be searched this way. Under the Privacy Act of 1974, if you are not listed on the bond as an owner or co-owner, the Treasury is limited in the additional information it can provide.
• Talk to your family about savings bonds as gifts. Do your parents or grandparents still have any bonds that were given to you as a child? Ask family members whether they'd be willing to do a search for any bonds they might have bought as gifts under their own Social Security number. The Treasury can release information only to the rightful owner.
• To learn how much a bond is worth, you can go to www.treasurydirect.gov and look up the redemption value. A savings bond holder can take the bond to a local financial institution to redeem it for cash.
Source: www.treasurydirect.gov and Detroit Free Press research