A savings bond isn't transferable, so signing it doesn't allow someone else to cash it. As protection against fraud, financial institutions require more than a signature to cash savings bonds. If you're unable to cash a bond yourself, a registered co-owner can do it, or you can give someone power of attorney.
Many financial institutions cash savings bonds, but not all do. Alternately, the owner can mail the bond to a Treasury Retail Securities Site for cashing after having a bank official verify the signature.
Safeguards for Cashing Bonds
In its guide to cashing savings bonds, the Treasury Department reminds financial institutions that the bond's owner or co-owner must sign the savings bond and present proper identification. The signature must match the name on the bond exactly. Some acceptable documents for identification include an employee picture ID, a government-issued trade license, a driver's license, a state ID card, a U.S passport or a green card. At its discretion, a bank can cash up to $1,000 worth of bonds based on identification only.
To cash amounts larger than $1,000, the bank must know the bond holder as a customer for at least six months. Alternately, another regular bank customer can identify the person cashing the bond. This customer must have more than a casual relationship with bond-holder -- for example, as a long-term friend.
Cashing Bonds as a Beneficiary
The registered beneficiary on a savings bond can cash it after the owner's death. Banks can cash the Series I, E and EE bonds, while H and HH bonds must be redeemed by mail after certification by a bank official. The beneficiary must present Form PDF 1522 and an official copy of the owner's death certificate to cash the bonds.
Cashing Bonds Through Power of Attorney
You can authorize someone to cash your savings bonds by giving her power of attorney. This attorney-in-fact must then present the bond or bonds to an authorized officer of a trust company, credit union or bank to certify her signature. Alternately, she can fill out Form PDF 1522 and send the bonds to the address on the form for redemption.
Lost or Stolen Bonds
If your savings bonds are lost or stolen, you can request replacement by filling out Form PDF 1048 and mailing it the address on the form. You'll need to supply the serial numbers if you have them. Otherwise, the Treasury Department can look up your bonds if you provide your Social Security number, the month and year you bought them, the complete name or names on the bond, and your mailing address.
New bonds are only available in electronic form, so you'll need to open a Treasury Direct
Unlike some other investments, there's no secondary market for savings bonds. If someone finds your bond and sells it, the buyer can't cash it. A resold savings bond is just a collectible or souvenir. If your name is on the bond, the Treasury owes you the money, not another purchaser.