How to find out if you have secret savings bonds

The U.S. Treasury has a site called “Treasury Hunt” where you can find out if you have savings bonds in your name (or not).

When I was a kid, I remember there was a special on TV called “The Mystery of Al Capone’s Vaults“.

It was hosted by a pre-right-wing Geraldo Rivera, and it was this live show where they had found some hidden space owned by the infamous mob boss Al Capone, which purportedly had millions of dollars, or expensive contraband, or who-knows-what stored inside.

Somehow, some crazy TV exec thought this was a good idea to turn this into a live prime-time broadcast, with Geraldo sharing stories about the history of Al Capone, against a backdrop of large machinery breaking down walls and drilling into safes.

Or so I remember. I was just a kid.

Keep this in mind, as we talk about a different treasure hunt, one that involves your savings bonds, whether or not you knew it.

Old paper savings bonds

I have some savings bonds that I got when I was a kid, and last year they finally matured.

They are paper bonds, back when the Treasury created those, and they look like relics of a different time (as indeed they are).

Somehow I managed to hold on to these suckers all these years (though to be fair they don’t take up much room), but I can imagine many situations where people may have received savings bonds and lost them, or indeed, never even knew they had them all. Most people move every few years, and that paper savings bond you got from grandma when you were 12 may not just be at the top of your list.

Luckily, the U.S. Treasury has you covered.

Treasury Hunt

I was looking around on the Treasury Direct site, the government site that allows you to buy and redeem securities directly from the U.S. Treasury. I was trying to figure out if I can cash my bonds in and keep the physical certificates as a keepsake (hey, I’m sentimental), when I found a link for something called “Treasury Hunt“.

This was a service where you could find out if you had savings bonds in your name: in short, whether you had money owed to you.

As the site puts it:

Treasury Hunt is our online search engine for finding matured, uncashed savings bonds (over 30 years old and no longer earning interest). You can also find missing payments on other securities.

I was intrigued. Perhaps there were more savings bonds I had gotten along the way? I knew I had a few from when I was born, but I thought I cashed them all in. Maybe not?

Finding your free money

It’s actually fairly simple to find out if you have outstanding savings bonds. All you have to do is go to this site.

It will ask from your Social Security Number and your current state of residence.

From there, it will look in its database and tell you your results.

If you know a partner or family member’s SSN, you can look them up too.

To be honest, I’m impressed. I didn’t realize that the Treasury had it together enough to put together such a database, much less make it available for public searching.

The mystery of Mike Pumphrey’s bonds

I was excited and trepidatious as I typed my information in. I clicked Search and waited.

And here was the result:

Ah well. As we all know, there was nothing in Al Capone’s vaults either.

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