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FAQs about the Masking of Social Security Numbers on Paper Treasury Securities

What changes are being made to the inscriptions on paper Treasury securities?

Starting with securities issued or replaced on August 1, 2006, and after, the first five digits of the Social Security Number (SSN) or Employer Identification Number (EIN) will be masked on the securities and replaced by asterisks. For example, an SSN inscription that would previously have been 123 45 6789 will read *** ** 6789. For more than three decades, Social Security Numbers have been a required part of the inscription on Treasury savings securities. EINs appear on securities bearing trust or other fiduciary registrations. On paper securities, SSNs and EINs have been printed just above the registrant’s name and are used to establish records of ownership for the bonds. Securities affected include Series E, EE, H, HH and I Savings Bonds, U.S. Retirement Plan and Individual Retirement bonds, and any marketable securities still in definitive form.

Why is this change being made?

The first five digits of a registrant’s SSN or EIN will be masked to eliminate the possibility, however remote, that the number could be seen by an unauthorized individual and used to further identity theft.

Will Social Security Numbers continue to be required to purchase savings securities?

Yes. Social Security Numbers will continue to be a required part of a security’s registration. The SSN of the first-named owner, or that of the purchaser if the registered owner’s number is unknown or unavailable, must be provided at the time of purchase. These numbers will continue to be used as identifiers in the Treasury’s record-keeping system. However, the full number will no longer be printed on the face of paper securities.

Will the absence of full SSNs on the face of paper securities cause any problems when I want to redeem the securities?

No. Redemption transactions are not affected and continue to be processed according to current rules, including IRS income tax reporting requirements. Anyone presenting savings bonds for redemption is required to provide the appropriate taxpayer identification number so that an IRS Form 1099-INT can be properly issued. The presenter is not always the person whose SSN is on a savings bond.