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State sues feds over unclaimed savings bonds

$1 billion in bonds possibly owed to Floridians

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The state of Florida is holding $1 million worth of U.S. savings bonds left unclaimed in safety deposit boxes, but the state also is suing the federal government because as much as $1 billion in the bonds could be owed to Floridians.
 
U.S. savings bonds are how average Americans helped pay for World War II. The Baby Boomers were brought up buying stamps in school that were later redeemed for bonds.

So now, $1 million in unclaimed savings bonds have been turned over to the state. But there’s a problem: The federal government won’t redeem them.

“The money doesn’t belong to the federal government,” said Ashley Carr, with the Department of Financial Services. “Ultimately, it belongs to the individual who purchased that bond -- sometimes even years ago. So, what we want them to do, you know, is if the federal government isn’t going to look for these individuals, this is what we do, and we happen to it pretty well.”

Last month alone, more than $35 million was returned to Floridians.

The state has filed a suit. It wants to redeem the bonds it holds, but also gain access to an estimated $1 billion in unredeemed bonds bought by Floridians.

“But they feel differently,” Carr said. “They want to hold on to those funds, and that’s where we stand. We’re looking forward to the spring where we’ll have our day in court -- where we’ll present our case. We feel like we’re on the right side of this fight.”

Until then, the promise of a better life through buying government bonds will remain unfulfilled, for some.

This website can help users see if any of the bonds belong to them or a relative, or if any other unclaimed property, such as a utility deposit, is ready to be claimed. There is no deadline. The money will always be available to the rightful owner or that person’s heirs.