Blowing the dust off some old savings accounts

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Q My husband and I have savings passbooks for accounts that have been inactive for the past 40 years. Many of the banks have since merged. The balances are anywhere from $5 to $100. I also have a couple of 1950 US savings bonds. What can we do to receive the balances?

S.S., via e-mail

A "You're going to have do some research," says Janet Eissenstat, with the American Bankers Association in Washington.

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Start with those bank buildings that still stand in your community and in which you had accounts. Whatever their current names, go to them, and see if your past accounts are still listed. If so, and you still have money in them, they owe it to you.

For banks that you can't locate, check with your state banking commission. They should be able to track mergers. You can also check with your regional Federal Reserve Bank on mergers.

For specific accounts that you can't find, check with your secretary of state's office. They often keep lists of abandoned property, which would include bank accounts.

Some of your balances, incidentally, may have been eaten up by maintenance charges, Ms. Eissenstat says.

Finally, Series E bonds older than 40 years no longer earn interest, according to Daniel J. Pederson's "US Savings Bonds." Any bank can cash the bonds for you.

QWhich corporations engage in the most animal experiments to advance their profit margin?

J.S., Lindenhurst, Ill.

APeople For The Ethical Treatment of Animals lists many companies that conduct animal testing on its Web site (www.peta-online.org/cmp/cctest1099.html). You can also call the organization at 757-622-PETA.

QAre US "agency" bonds as safe as US Treasury bonds?

F.M., New York

AAgency bonds, issued by US government agencies, are similar to Treasuries in having diverse maturity dates and a strong resale market. According to "Financial Planning Essentials," published by Ernst & Young (1999), Uncle Sam is unlikely to let US agency issues default.

Questions about finances? Write:

Guy Halverson

The Christian Science Monitor

500 Fifth Ave., Suite 1845

New York, NY 10110

E-mail: halversong@csps.com

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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