Since 1935, the U.S. Treasury’s Bureau of the Public Debt has issued more than six billion savings bonds worth more than $600 billion. Approximately $26 billion in savings bonds have reached final maturity and ceased to pay interest. The Bureau does not have an active program to locate the bondholders and reunite them with the proceeds of their bonds. S.2417, the Unclaimed Savings Bond Act of 2019, proposes to empower the states to act on behalf of the Bureau to find owners of matured unredeemed savings bonds and facilitate the payment of their claims.
Access a copy of the legislation as well as sponsorship information: S. 2417
View Sen. Kennedy’s speech on Unclaimed Savings Bonds: Video 1,Video 2
Why S.2417 Is Necessary
Most savings bonds have an initial maturity of 20- to 40-years. When savings bonds reach final maturity, and cease earning interest, the Bureau does not notify the bondholder. For those fully matured bonds remaining unredeemed, there is no active program by the Bureau to locate the bondholders and pay them the proceeds to which they are entitled. Traditionally, it has been up to the registered owner to remember to redeem the matured bond decades after the initial purchase. This has resulted in approximately $26 billion in matured U.S. savings bonds left unclaimed in the U.S. Treasury.
Formal NAUPA Statement Issued on August 23, 2019:
Passing the Unclaimed Savings Bond Act of 2019 will allow state treasurers and other state officials who administer unclaimed property programs to return more than $25 billion in unclaimed savings bonds to the rightful owners. We support Senator Kennedy’s bill, and look forward to working with Congress to secure passage of the legislation.
Contact Your Senators and Representatives to ask them to Sponsor the Unclaimed Savings Bond Act
As the State Treasurer, program administrators, or other advocates, NAST and NAUPA encourages you to contact your entire Congressional delegation asking them to support the bill. (Please thank the member if they are already supporting it.)
Here is a sample letter for the Senate and House to use as a draft, then follow up with an email, and a telephone call. Please send a copy to NAST so we can also follow up.
To assist with your call, here is a list of Congressional staff to contact by state and office for the Senate and House.
Once done, your office may want to send a press release stating your support for the bill’s passage. Here is a sample of a release you may wish to review when drafting your own.
NAST encourages you to submit an op-ed to your largest state’s newspaper. Here are some tips on how to write one for print or online submission. Send us a link once published and we’ll help promote it.
Here is an example of an op-ed outline.
Q: Why are there so many unclaimed savings bonds?
A: After tens of years, many bond holders no longer have record of the bond – they are often lost, stolen, destroyed, or the physical bond is otherwise not available. Records relating to savings bonds are not fully automated, so a report listing the owners of matured, unredeemed accrual savings bonds is not easily accessible to the rightful owners. Claims filed after six years of maturity of a savings bond are entertained only if the claimant supplies the serial number of a bond. However, in many cases the U.S. Treasury is the sole holder of that information, making retrieval extremely difficult. As a result, approximately $26,000,000,000 in matured U.S. savings bonds are presently left unclaimed in the U.S. Treasury.
Q: Why are states the appropriate entity to help facilitate bond owners’ receipt of funds for unclaimed U.S. Savings Bonds?
A: The U.S. Treasury has not made an affirmative effort to contact the owners of unredeemed savings bonds to assist them in redeeming them. All fifty states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico have existing, successful unclaimed property programs. If, given access to federal records, states will be able to list the bonds in their established unclaimed property databases allowing them to make the strongest impact on the effort to reunite bond owners with their lost bonds. The existing infrastructure that is already empowering states to return unclaimed property will enable states to successfully add savings bonds to their unclaimed property programs.
Q: What is the potential value of bonds to my state?
A: Based on historical buying patters and population, the estimated value of unredeemed, lost, or missing bonds has been calculated here.
For additional assistance, please contact Jeremy Dawson, NAUPA Director at Jeremy@StateTreasurers.org