Hunt the US Treasury for Your Lost Money

Search the US Treasury for Forgotten Money

Illustration of Edmond Dantes Discovering the Treasure of the Island of Monte Cristo
Illustration of Edmond Dantes Discovering the Treasure of the Island of Monte Cristo. Stefano Bianchetti / Getty Images

How would you like to wander around the U.S. Treasury looking for forgotten money? Well, the Treasury Hunt web site lets you do just that. You will try this. You know you will.

Established in February, 2001, the Treasury Hunt web site provides an easy way for people to find out if they have matured U.S. savings bonds, or undeliverable bonds or interest payments. The entire process is protected by heavy encryption and a personal follow-up process assures information is disclosed only to the actual owners of the bonds.

[How to Buy US Savings Bonds Online]

How do you forget a savings bond? Easily. A young you gets the bond as a gift. "Oh, whoopee," you think, "in 30 years, this thing will be worth something," and stick the bond in a drawer. Thirty years later, your head is full of kids and cars and mortgages and ... everything, except that now very "worth something" bond. Or, maybe you inherited some bonds years ago, but never received them.

In fact, over 15,000 savings bonds and 25,000 interest payments a year are returned to the Treasury as undeliverable. All together, over 20 million savings bonds worth over over $8 billion have matured and can be redeemed.

"Treasury Hunt is one more step in our effort to encourage owners of savings bonds that have stopped earning interest to redeem them and put their money back to work," said Van Zeck, Commissioner of the Bureau of Public Debt, in a 2001 Treasury press release, "The new Web site will also help us in our efforts to get bonds and savings bond interest payments reunited with their rightful owners."

At any time, at least 160,000 such forgotten or "undeliverable" bonds are out there, just waiting for their owners to redeem them for cash.

When it opened on Feb. 5, 2001, the Treasury Hunt database contained about 35,000 records, but thousands more have been added since.

Searching Treasury Hunt is easy. After clicking on the "Start Search" button, you will be prompted for information such as name, city and state and in some cases Social Security Number.

If there is a possible match, you will be given instructions for following up. The site is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Treasure Hunting Tips

Be sure to use the name and address information under which the bond would have been purchased. Also, try variations of your name, just in case a spelling mistake was made. Finally, you do not need to enter all the information requested on the form. Just fill in what you know.

Savings bonds become undeliverable and are sent to the U.S. Bureau of the Public Debt only after financial institution issuing agents or the Federal Reserve make several attempts at delivering the bonds to investors. Bonds returned as undeliverable are a tiny fraction of the 45 million bonds sold each year.

More about U.S. Savings Bonds

Holders of Series H or HH savings bonds, which pay interest currently, should also check the Treasury Hunt web site to look for interest payments returned to the U.S. Bureau of the Public Debt as undeliverable. The most common cause for a payment to be returned is when a customer changes bank accounts or address and fails to provide new delivery instructions.

Series E bonds sold from May of 1941 through November of 1965 earn interest for 40 years.

Bonds sold since December of 1965 earn interest for 30 years. So, bonds issued in February of 1961 and earlier have stopped earning interest as have bonds issued between December of 1965 and February of 1971.

The Bureau of the Public Debt has a number of employees assigned to a special locator group that finds owners of undeliverable payments and bonds. Each year they locate and deliver several millions of dollars in returned interest payments and thousands of previously undeliverable bonds to their owners. Treasury Hunt adds to the effectiveness, not to mention the fun, of this effort by making it easy for the public to check and see if they've got a bond or interest payment waiting for them.

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Your Citation
Longley, Robert. "Hunt the US Treasury for Your Lost Money." ThoughtCo, Jun. 4, 2016, Longley, Robert. (2016, June 4). Hunt the US Treasury for Your Lost Money. Retrieved from Longley, Robert. "Hunt the US Treasury for Your Lost Money." ThoughtCo. (accessed May 23, 2018).