The Ties (and Lies) that Bond
If you've been sufficiently frightened to believe that you're a moment away from forgetting or losing your savings bonds -- thus costing you tens of thousands of dollars -- the U.S. government has your back. It wants you to keep those savings bonds close to your vest and offers some nifty, 21st-century approaches that make it easy to do so.
With the Savings Bond Wizard (a trademarked tool of the Department of the Treasury), you can keep track of and manage your savings bonds with a software application. You simply enter in your bonds, and the Wizard will calculate growth, interest and other changes. You can even print out reports, and it will alert you when your bond has matured so you never need to worry about leaving unredeemed cash in the Treasury Department again. If the Savings Bond Wizard is a bit much for you, the Treasury Department also offers a comprehensive list of tools to help you find earnings and values for bonds.
While you're carefully keeping track of bonds, remember to keep your eyes on those who are also watching your finances closely. Scams and frauds around savings bonds have existed since the bond enterprise began, and many of the frauds even mimic those scams, down to the actual bond they're trying to sell. In fact, these bonds are called historical bonds, which means that they were at one time active but no longer hold any value. Oftentimes, railroad or mining bonds are used to perpetuate this scam. The fraudster will offer these historical bonds, making claims that they're "payable in gold" and "backed by the Treasury Department." Of course, these bonds are entirely worthless.
In 2000, there was also a case of bond fraud where U.S. senior citizens were targeted by a Canadian company to buy "British Premium Savings Bonds." Unsurprisingly, Premium Savings Bonds sold by the United Kingdom are not offered to those outside Great Britain, and American senior citizens were instead paying $5,000 for worthless pieces of official-looking paper [source: Federal Trade Commission]. In 2008, people were attempting to use "private U.S. Treasury bonds" to buy cars; the only problem being that these "private bonds" were supposedly backed by the United States Treasury (not a feature of private bonds, for obvious reasons) and cited the Treasury secretary on that paper bond itself. An even bigger giveaway? U.S. Treasury notes are not given out in paper form.
To learn lots more about savings bonds, unclaimed money and other financial delights, read on to the next page and find yourself rich in knowledge.
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- Federal Trade Commission. " U.S., Canadian Officials Halt Canadian Telemarketing Scam "British Premium Savings Bond" Scheme Targeted Seniors." December 18, 2000. (October 27, 2011) http://www.ftc.gov/opa/2000/12/nagg.shtm
- Lankford, Kimberly. "How To Find a Lost Savings Bond." Kiplinger's Personal Finance. August 25, 2008. (October 27, 2011) http://www.kiplinger.com/columns/ask/archive/2008/q0825.htm
- Leamy, Elizabeth. "Unclaimed Money: $16 Billion in Unclaimed Savings Bonds." ABC News. June 15, 2011. (October 27, 2011) http://abcnews.go.com/Business/unclaimed-money-16-billion-unredeemed-treasury-bonds/story?id=13841871
- Leamy, Elizabeth. "Unredeemed U.S. Savings Bonds: Q and As." ABC News. June 15, 2011. (October 27, 2011) http://abcnews.go.com/Business/unredeemed-savings-bond-treasury-department-money-waiting/story?id=13842267
- National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators. "What is Unclaimed Property?" 2011. (October 27, 2011) http://www.unclaimed.org/what/
- Samaad, Michelle. "Hunting For Your Lost Treasure." MarketWatch.com. May 28, 1999. (October 27, 2011) http://www.marketwatch.com/story/your-money-hunting-for-your-lost-treasure?pagenumber=1
- Securities Industries and Financial Markets Association. "What Are Corporate Bonds?" InvestInBonds.Com. 2010. (October 27, 2011) http://www.investinginbonds.com/learnmore.asp?catid=5&subcatid=18&id=173
- TreasuryDirect. "Historical Bond Fraud." United States Department of the Treasury. October 1, 2007. (October 27, 2011) http://www.treasurydirect.gov/instit/statreg/fraud/fraud_historicalbond.htm
- TreasuryDirect. "Treasury Hunt." United States Department of the Treasury. August 25, 2010. (October 27, 2011) http://www.treasurydirect.gov/indiv/tools/tools_treasuryhunt.htm
- TreasuryDirect. "Treasury to End Over-the-Counter Sales of Paper U.S. Savings Bonds; Action will save $70 million over first five years." United States Department of the Treasury. July 13, 2011. (October 27, 2011) http://www.treasurydirect.gov/news/pressroom/pressroom_comotcend0711.htm
- United States Department of the Treasury. " Fraud Alert - Bogus Treasury Notes, Bonds and Account Numbers." (October 27, 2011) https://docs.google.com/viewer?a=v&q=cache:qm5MhBAd0RkJ:www.dol.wa.gov/business/UCC/fraudAlert.pdf+united+states+savings+bonds+scams&hl=en&gl=us&pid=bl&srcid=ADGEESgfigyVwzl98TJ2mBsXvaM0bPqB8c4Oz2_OwL7m_GN3Ya-BxWNyQTUwPqY5H0352KwseY4MQ2HA2CO2oP6ptJYVGdtBEKaqWL9sgG27jc0wJ4079sI3yqVvNm_0dCKUX8a2uf2q&sig=AHIEtbT4Xp8PU9Op6hWN2CHHIk1Ea4JxZA&pli=1