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What Does the Serial Number on a Savings Bond Mean?


If you're new to investing and you've purchased savings bonds, you might have a few questions. One of the most common questions is what the serial number on the bond means. It is vital information that you'll find printed on each bond. How important is the serial number of a bond anyway? If you have paper bonds that are lost, stolen, or destroyed, you'll soon find out why it's a number that is worth recording. To help you better understand the meaning and reason for this number, here is everything that you need to know about serial bond numbers. It's not like the serial numbers found on paper currency. You must have the serial number to cash in or transfer your savings bonds.

What is the serial number on a savings bond?

According to the US Treasury Department, the serial number that is printed on a savings bond confirms ownership of the value of the asset. It is proof of the ownership period. Unless specific processes are undertaken to officially transfer ownership, the person on record in the US Department of Treasury has the legal right to the value whether the bond is in his or her possession or held by others.

How the serial number can help prevent financial loss

If the paper savings bond is lost, stolen, or destroyed, the number can help you to receive a digital replacement. In some cases, such as water or fire damage, the serial number may be illegible, or the bond may become entirely destroyed. Even if you don't have the physical bond or the serial number in your possession, you maintain rights of ownership. A record of every bond is retained in a secure database through the Department of the Treasury. In the event of physical loss, download FS Form 1048 from the official website here. Provide the month and year of the purchase of the bond. You must also provide your social security number and first, middle, and last names on the bond, along with your address. If EE Savings bonds printed on paper are lost or damaged, the US Treasury Department will reissue them. If your savings bonds get stolen, they are worthless in the hands of anyone who doesn't have their name printed on the bond. The serial number on a bond is a means of protecting the investor's interest in the value of the asset.

The history of savings bonds

The Savings Bonds Program started in 1935 during the Roosevelt administration. A bond that cost investors $18.75 had a face value of $25, according to Zacks. Savings Bonds could be purchased through local banks with cash. The numbers were printed on the bond and recorded under the name of the buyer. In those days, it was vital to keep a record of the bond numbers and to keep them stored in a separate place from the bonds because this was the only way to have a stolen, lost, or destroyed bond replaced. We've come a long way since those days. Defense or war bonds were made available in 1941 and you could buy them for as low as ten cents each. Bonds evolved since that time. There are several different types available. They can be purchased through automatic payroll deductions, cash, or purchased online. The biggest change has been the move to digital recording and issuing of bonds. Paper bonds are still available through local credit unions and banks, but they are not as common as they were before the digital movement in 2002. Tracking your bonds online is easier than ever.

The benefits of digital bonds

While paper bonds are wonderful gifts for those you care about, digital bonds are a more convenient option. The serial numbers are stored in a secure place and as long as you set up an account with the US Treasury Department, you can access the information you need about your bonds. You can obtain the serial numbers, check on the maturity rate, and even purchase additional bonds at any time you like. You can also use the digital platform for cashing in your bonds for automatic redemption when they reach maturity.

Can you lose your interest in a paper bond?

Commercial Paper is bond security that is still printed out in paper in the form of a promissory note from the issuer. This type is a short term bond usually issued by corporations in capital raising campaigns. These bonds are exempt from SEC registration and not FDIC insured. The company that issued the bond is the sole backer. Most corporate commercial paper bonds start at $100,000, and their investments are most often made by wealthy investors or corporations. Although considered a fairly safe investment, some investors have failed to collect on the investment they made when they did not have physical possession of the promissory note. This is the one type of bond that you want to be vigilant about maintaining the documentation for. These bonds are separate from traditional savings bonds backed by the US Department of Treasury but worth noting here.

Final thoughts

Typically, savings bonds are purchased online through a digital account with the US Department of Treasury. There are bonds in existence that are printed on paper, however. The serial number is the vehicle for tracking ownership. The serial numbers can be transferred from the owner(s) to another person, but there is a transfer process that is required. US Savings Bonds represent a part of the history of the government's fundraising efforts. A lot has changed about the process and safety of the bonds. They are a safe investment strategy, but the tracking methods have improved drastically. The serial number of each bond remains an important identifier, but even if it is lost or stolen, there are ways to recover the information for most types of bonds.

Allen Lee

Written by Allen Lee

Allen Lee is a Toronto-based freelance writer who studied business in school but has since turned to other pursuits. He spends more time than is perhaps wise with his eyes fixed on a screen either reading history books, keeping up with international news, or playing the latest releases on the Steam platform, which serve as the subject matter for much of his writing output. Currently, Lee is practicing the smidgen of Chinese that he picked up while visiting the Chinese mainland in hopes of someday being able to read certain historical texts in their original language.

Read more posts by Allen Lee

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