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How to Find Lost Savings Bonds

How to Find Lost Savings Bonds
Austin Kilham
Austin KilhamUpdated July 10, 2023
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Editor’s note: Lantern by SoFi seeks to provide content that is objective, independent and accurate. Writers are separate from our business operation and do not receive direct compensation from advertisers or partners. Read more about our Editorial Guidelines and How We Make Money.
U.S. savings bonds are a simple and easy way to save money while earning interest. They’re backed by the federal government, making them one of the safest investments out there. You can earn interest for up to 30 years, at which point the bond expires and you receive back your principal, aka the money you paid for the bond in the first place. But what happens if your bond has been lost, stolen, damaged, or completely destroyed? Luckily, if you no longer have access to your bond, there are steps you can take to look up a lost savings bond and replace it with a new one if need be. 

What Are Savings Bonds?

Savings bonds are a type of debt security issued by the federal government. When you buy one, you are essentially loaning the government money to help fund federal spending. In return, the government makes regular interest payments to you, also known as coupon payments, and it returns the bond principal when you cash out the bond. Savings bonds can be one alternative to opening a savings account and holding money there. Recommended: Guide to Savings PlansThere are currently two types of savings bonds: 

EE Bonds

EE bonds are electronic bonds that are stored in a TreasuryDirect account. They earn a fixed interest rate of 2.50% for bonds issued from May 1, 2023 to October 31, 2023.Investors can hold EE bonds for up to 30 years and buy them in any amount from $25 to $10,000. There is a maximum purchase of $10,000 per year. EE bonds are guaranteed to double in value in 20 years and can be cashed out after one year. That said, investors who cash out within five years will forfeit three month’s of interest. 

I Bonds

I bonds, on the other hand, can be issued as paper bonds or electronic bonds. They are built to provide investors with protection against inflation. They do so with both a fixed interest rate and a rate that’s based on inflation and adjusted twice yearly. I bonds issued May 1, 2023 to October 31, 2023 earn an interest rate of 4.30%, which includes a fixed rate of 0.90%. I bonds may be purchased in amounts as low as $25. Investors can purchase up to $10,000 per year in electronic I bonds and $5,000 per year in paper I bonds. I bonds can be held for 30 years and cashed out after one year. But as with EE bonds, those who cash out their I bond before five years are up are penalized three month’s worth of interest. 

Other Savings Bonds

While EE and I bonds are the two types of savings bonds that the federal government currently issues, other types of bonds were issued in the past, such as series HH bonds. Lost bonds may be one of these older issues. Recommended: Savings Accounts vs Bonds Compared

How to Check for Lost Savings Bonds

You look for a lost savings bond using the Treasury Department’s Treasury Hunt tool. You can use the website to discover whether you have any mature bonds that haven’t been cashed out yet or if you have any missing interest payments from your bonds.You may also use the tool to see if a loved one passed away before cashing out any bonds.  The only information you’ll need to use this tool is a Social Security number and state. If you get a match, you’ll receive instructions and an electronic form that can help you replace your bond or potentially cash it out. If you are not the owner of the bond, the Treasury Department may be limited in the information it can tell you. 

Information to Use for a Lost Savings Bond Replacement

The more information you have about your savings bond, the easier it will be for the Treasury Department to find your bond and issue a replacement. Here’s a look at what you’ll need: 

The Serial Number on a Savings Bond

Your bond serial number can be found in the lower right hand corner of your bond. It’s a 10-digit number that serves as a unique identifier for the bond. Electronic bonds do not have serial numbers. They can only be found on paper bonds. Using a serial number is the easiest way to identify a bond, but if you don’t have this number handy, there is other information you can use. 

Information Needed Without a Serial Number

Without a serial number, you’ll need to provide the specific month and year that the bond was purchased (also known as its issue date), the buyer’s Social Security number, the owner’s, or co-owners’, names, including middle names or initials, and the owner’s mailing address.

Additional Information

It may also help to have information about the bond’s principal, the amount you’ll receive when you cash out the bond. Principal may also be known as face value or par value. Recommended: Business Bank Account vs Personal Account

Using Form 1048

To make a claim for lost, stolen, or destroyed U.S. savings bonds, you’ll need to fill out Form 1048 which can be found on the Treasury Department’s website. The form asks for the information listed above, as well as the number of bonds that are missing and the details of the loss. The form will also ask you whether you want to receive replacement bonds or if you’d rather receive payment. Replacement bonds are not always an option, especially if the bond is within a full month of reaching its maturity date.  When new bonds are issued, the Treasury Department no longer offers paper bonds. Rather, the new bond will be issued in electronic form and stored on a Treasury Direct account. Once you’ve filled on the form, do not sign it yet. You need to do so in the presence of a notary or certifying officer. Mail the form to Treasury Retail Securities Services, P.O. Box 9150, Minneapolis, MN 55480-9150. Recommended: Saving vs Investing: Which Is Right for You?

The Takeaway

If your savings bonds have been misplaced, destroyed, or stolen, all is not lost. With the right information in hand, you can track down your bonds and have them replaced with new electronic bonds. Or if you’d prefer, you can cash your bonds out. Seeking an alternative to government savings bonds? Consider opening a savings account. High yield savings accounts, in particular, frequently offer interest rates that are comparable to savings bond rates. What’s more, savings accounts may offer more flexibility in how you when and how you can access your money. Compare high yield savings accounts with Lantern by SoFi.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you look up savings bonds by Social Security number?
What happens to unclaimed savings bonds?
How do I find bond history?
Photo credit: iStock/eclipse_images

About the Author

Austin Kilham

Austin Kilham

Austin Kilham is a writer and journalist based in Los Angeles. He focuses on personal finance, retirement, business, and health care with an eye toward helping others understand complex topics.
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