Now that we know what bonds are and how it's possible for you to forget about them, let's get down to business. How do we get our hands on that sweet government money?
In some cases, it's almost laughably easy. As we said earlier, the government actually isn't keen to hold on to your money, so its trying to make it easy for you to get your money back. Because savings bonds are issued in a series depending on the date, it does matter when a savings bond was bought.
The best-case scenario: If your savings bond was bought after 1974, you're in luck. All U.S. savings bonds purchased after that year have an electronic record. The U.S. Treasury Department set up an extremely convenient database at Treasury Hunt.com, which allows you to enter in your social security number to see if any matured savings bonds are ready for you to grab. Do keep in mind that if someone bought you a savings bond as a gift, that person might have used his or her own social security number.
So, say you looked on Treasury Hunt and nothing came up but you still have a sneaking suspicion that there might be forgotten savings bond floating around waiting for you (or the bond in question was issued pre-1974.) No worries; the TreasuryDirect.com Web site also has forms that you can fill out requesting a claim on a bond that wasn't received, or one that was lost, stolen or destroyed. Don't worry if you're not sure about the serial number; you can fill out names, date ranges and other pertinent information to help them find you a match.
Now that we're savvy about some ways to find savings bonds, let's take a look at how to prevent losing them in the first place. While we're at it, we'll also throw in some information on savings bonds scams and frauds for good measure.