Friday, October 10, 2008

Friday Encore: Lose Something?

Welcome to the Friday Encore where you'll get to read a past blog posting that I thought you might not want to miss. Okay, call it a repeat if you want. When necessary the post may be updated with new information or data to keep it relevant. The following was originally posted January 2008.

Lost Savings Bond Can be Recovered.
Remember when you were a kid and grandparents or relatives you hardly knew sent you savings bonds for your birthday? Not a very exciting gift for an eight year old, but you’re parents were always thrilled. Then they stuck them away somewhere “safe” because they would be valuable in the future. Whatever happened to them? Did you cash them? Do you even remember?

I don’t know about you, but I’m always losing stuff or at least thinking that I have. And now that I’m 3,000 mile away from my parents I’m not sure whatever happened to those little pieces of paper. I’m sure I’m not alone in this thought. So I decided to find out what happens if you lose your savings bonds.

My first stop whenever I need to track down some info regarding currency is to go directly to the source the Federal Reserve. Remember when you were a kid and you took that school field trip the to Mint? It was the coolest! Well, at least I thought so. And so did all my friends. Anyway the Federal Reserve website is kinda like that, but for adults—ton’s of cool info. You should check it out.

I was thrilled when the Feds FAQs listed my question How can I replace or redeem a lost savings bond?” But the answer sent me sluething again. I was directed to another site to download a form. Fortunately the Fed Reserve had given me the form number otherwise my hunt might have been stalled here. I searched for the form by number and found it easily.

My initial glance at the form was disheartening. The first section asks for the issue date, face amount and bond number. Now if I’m really missing the bonds that my aunt sent to me when I was nine, it’s not likely that I have any of this information. I also can’t answer their questions of when and how the bonds were lost—no fire, no burglary. I’m just not that exciting. The questions of the bonds last known whereabouts are rather personal such as “What was the result of your inquiry to the person(s) who had access?” However the second page of the form shines some hope. In this area they ask for information about the bondholder’s identity. Since I know myself I can answer these questions. It also makes me think that some database of issued bonds exists and they will actually search through it. As you can see I’m an optimist.

So I started filling out this form when the phone rang. One glance at the caller I.D. and I knew I had another clue! “Hey Mom,” I said as I picked up the phone. We went on with some pleasantries and then I moved in with the interrogation. “Remember all those savings bonds we used to get from Pop-Pop and the aunts,” I quized. “Sure, like at birthdays and Christmas,” she casually replied. “Yep, those are the ones,” now we’re getting somewhere I thought, “whatever happened to them?” I could hear her breathing becoming quicker. I waited for a whole nano-second as she did not hesitate. “Don’t you remember? Dad took you to cash them in on your 18th birthday.” Long pause. “Oh, yeah I remember.” And really I did remember.

So there it was the naked truth. The only thing I’ve lost are my marbles. But if I did lose my savings bond or if I ever get another savings bond and lose it, I know what to do. And now so do you.

Want to know what your bonds are worth?
Now if you’ve got your Savings Bond, but want to see what it’s worth you can use the calculator at Treasury Direct but note that you’ll need serial number and issue date.

Advice for the future
If you have children you know that they will receive gifts of savings bonds. And now that you are an adult you know that they really are fabulous gifts. So to protect them in event of house fire, natural disaster or being lost any other way you’ll want to put them in a safe deposit box. Or at very least get a fire-safe box at home. Also document the serial numbers and issue dates of each bond then secure these numbers safely. That way if the bonds are ever lost or stolen they are more easily recovered.

photo by LaserGuided, Flickr 2006

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