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Over $16 Billion Exist in Unredeemed Treasury Bonds

Creatas/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The U.S. Treasury's Bureau of the Public Debt is holding 44.7 million matured, unredeemed savings bonds worth $16.3 billion -- and one of them could belong to your family.

"Matured" means they have finished earning interest and "unredeemed" means the owners haven't cashed them in.  When you consider that savings bonds take 20 to 40 years to mature, it's easy to see how people could forget about them.

The good news is that in 2000, the Treasury Department started its "Treasury Hunt" website, where you can search for savings bonds in your family's name.  All you do is enter a social security number and the site returns results instantly.

And it's worth checking -- the average successful search turns up bonds worth about $1,000.

Every month, the Treasury Department adds another half million bonds to the database as they mature, so check back periodically if your intial search comes up empty.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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