Canada Savings Bonds are the most popular investment product in Canada. A million of us buy some every year, usually through payroll savings plans at work. And about seven million of us own at least one issue of CSB's or their newer cousins, Canada Premium Bonds.

So it should come as little surprise that 63,000 bondholders have $112 million of old bond issues that outstanding — meaning they have matured and are sitting uncashed somewhere.

CSB staff do send out notices to owners of bonds that are about to mature. But sometimes, the owners have long since moved on. Sometimes, the owners have forgotten they never cashed that bond they bought back in the 1960s. Sometimes, the owners know they have bonds somewhere but can't find them. And sometimes they've died without telling anyone about their bond hoard.

A point of interest
Older bond issues — those before Series 46 — stopped earning interest when they matured. But starting with Series 46 and later bonds, Ottawa has extended the maturities for another 10 years, meaning they will continue to earn interest.  

Here's the good news: It's easy to find out if you are the owner of some long-matured bonds. It's not too difficult to replace lost bonds. And it's possible to find out if your dearly-departed Aunt Polly was the owner of some uncashed bonds. But there are some caveats.

For privacy reasons, there's no web-based database to check. You have to write or phone to find the answers.

There are two main customer service phone numbers:

For Series 1 to 31 (the old ones with coupons), people should phone the Bank of Canada at 1 (800) 665-8650.

For Series 32 and later, people should phone 1 (800) 575-5151.

Why two numbers? Customer service for the later series of bonds was outsourced to EDS Canada a few years back. They don't have any information about the earlier issues.

If you're inquiring about bonds you think you own, the folks who answer your call will first ask you some questions to verify that you really are who you say you are. Then, if you know the serial number(s) of the bond(s), the search is very easy. Failing that, try to figure out when you bought the bonds.

If you're the owner of some uncashed bonds that you can't find, you can get your bonds replaced. But you'll have to fill out a Bond of Indemnity form in front of a notary public or someone similar and pay a fee that ranges from $25 to $65 for claims of up to $3,500 and two per cent for larger amounts.

If you're the executor, administrator or trustee of someone's estate, then you will be asked to send proof of your legal right to ask for an unclaimed bond search.

To Part 6:  Unclaimed bankruptcy proceeds