Savings Bonds

How To Recover Lost Savings Bonds Held In Governments Safekeeping Program

The Treasury Department  initiated a “Safekeeping Program” in 1935 which allowed individual investors to store U.S. Savings Bonds inside vaults at their local banks. Military personnel stored bonds with their military service while on active duty. Many bonds still haven’t been retrieved. Here’s what to do.

Safekeeping was offered as a public service to civilians from 1935-1955.

Between 1977-1980, the government decided to centralize bond safekeeping, thus the Treasury’s Savings Bond Operations Office was created. Federal Reserve Banks wrote to bond owners at their last known addresses advising them that the safekeeping services would be terminated. Any bonds not claimed within 60 days at the bank, would be transferred to the Bureau of the Public Debt. Those “safekeeping” services to the general public were discontinued in 1955. Many bonds may have been unclaimed and still being held by the government.

Military Safekeeping

The U.S. Treasury’s Military Safekeeping program was offered to active duty military personnel who had purchased savings bonds via a payroll savings plan. It allowed military members to have their bonds held by their military branch of service (instead of being issued and mailed to a different address).

By the end of 1972, nearly 700,000 bonds, totaling approximately $50 million (face value) held in safekeeping had reached their final maturity and were no longer earning any interest. Approximately 350,000 of those bonds – nearly half  – belonged to World War II and other military veterans.

Sitting on bonds that have reached final maturity is like giving Uncle Sam and interest free loan.

The Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines continued to provided the “safekeeping” program (until the 1990’s), for up to one year after a military member was discharged.

In September 2010, the Treasury stopped issuing paper savings bonds via Payroll Deduction through the Federal and Defense Finance and accounting Services (DFAS).

DFAS moved to put the paper bonds being held into electronic book-entry form. That program ended in 2014.

Because the government had phased out paper savings bonds, DFAS began issuing and mailing the paper savings bonds to military personnel in early 2014 to the bond owners last address on file. According to the DFAS website, any savings bonds that were held by them in safekeeping were supposedly printed and mailed by the end of September, 2014. It is possible that many bonds were not been mailed to the correct  (or current) address or received by the bond owner.

The military bond mailing/retrieval process was supposedly conducted in stages based on military service and bond denomination.  Detailed information to obtain those bonds can be found on the DFAS website

To retrieve bonds which may still be held in military safekeeping contact the following offices based on military service:

Navy and Marine Corps members should submit their signed request in writing, by fax or by scanning a signed request via email to the following addresses:
Written (paper) requests:

DFAS-Cleveland Center
ATTN: CODE JDCAB
1240 East 9th Street
Cleveland, OH 44199

Scanned and signed requests via email:

NAVY BOND REQUESTS <NAVYBONDREQUESTS@DFAS.MIL>
MARINE CORPS BOND REQUESTS <MARINECORPSBONDREQUESTS@DFAS.MIL>

Signed requests via Fax: FAX: 216-522-6358 OR DSN 580-6358

Army and Air Force members should submit their signed request in writing, fax, or by email to:

Written (paper) requests:

Center Collection Mailbox
3801 Center Collection
P.O. Box 269490
Indianapolis, IN 46226-9490

Scanned and signed requests via email:

ARMY BOND REQUESTS <ARMYBONDREQUESTS@DFAS.MIL>
AIRFORCE BOND REQUESTS AIRFORCEBONDREQUESTS@DFAS.MIL

Bonds held in NON MILITARY safekeeping continued to be retained by the Treasury Department pending withdrawal by owners (as well as co-owners, beneficiaries or heirs & estates) To make a claim for missing bonds, contact 1-888-332-7411 or use the government form FS4239 to start the retrieval process. It is helpful to have the social security number of the persons bonds that are being searched for and if deceased, provide a death certificate and any approved supporting documents, such as a will (which indicates you are entitled to the bonds). If possible, indicate the address of the bond owner at the time of the bonds issuance and/or was put into safekeeping.

The Treasury Department still holds hundred of millions of paper bonds worth over $20 billion that have stopped earning interest.  It might be worth your time to submit the proper forms (and required documentation) to the government to take a chance at possibly retrieving valuable U.S. Savings Bonds. If you served in the Military, and believe bonds were held in safekeeping for you and never delivered, contact the appropriate branch. With just a little bit of time and effort completing the appropriate forms, you could uncover a lost treasure!

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By Jackie Brahney, Marketing Director, SavingsBonds.com, jbrahney@savingsbonds.com, @savingsbondsgal

2 thoughts on “How To Recover Lost Savings Bonds Held In Governments Safekeeping Program

    1. Hi Joan,

      You need to first recover the bond. You cannot cash in a copy of a bond. Use form FS1048
      Best,
      Jackie Brahney

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