Demand for inflation-linked savings bonds plummets TreasuryDirect website

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People seeking respite from inflation flooded phone lines and the Treasury Department website trying to buy Series I savings bonds, prompting much longer than usual waits . It’s the latest example of outdated government computer systems causing Americans angst.

On May 2, the Treasury Department announced that Inflation-Protected I Bonds will pay at least 9.62% interest. until the end of October. A day later, TreasuryDirect, the website people must use to buy the bonds, crashed.

“As interest in Series I securities has increased and traffic to the TreasuryDirect website and call center has increased, we have recently encountered issues that have impacted the experience of some users,” a Treasury Department spokesperson said in an emailed statement.

The department moved staff to handle the higher call volume, the spokesperson said.

People are asking about the rules for buying I bonds. Some have contacted me by email or by calling my toll-free number. 1-855-ASK-POST (1-855-275-7678).

You can purchase up to $10,000 in I Bonds each calendar year. But there are ways to increase that amount, such as using your federal tax refund to purchase an additional $5,000 in Paper I Bonds. You want to make sure you get it right, because purchases over the limit will be reimbursed and this reimbursement can take up to 16 weeks.

Susan H. Nadler, a New York-based certified public accountant, said she tried emailing and calling the Treasury Department to find out if her company could buy I bonds. She stayed in waited for two hours before giving up trying to get an answer. (The department then sent him an email stating that, yes, his business entity could purchase I. Bonds.)

“And the website, while they probably answer all or pretty much all the questions you might have, it’s very clunky and difficult to find things and maneuver around,” Nadler said. “They just keep adding something that’s really old.”

Others are locked out of accounts they created to purchase I bonds, or are told that a purchase request was never fulfilled by the Treasury Department even after checking all their the banking information was correct.

As the stock market continues to slide and banks pay ridiculously low rates on checking, savings and money market accounts, people are turning to Series I bonds, which were created to keep pace with the ‘inflation.

US could be heading for recession next year, other experts say

I bonds are one of the safest places to park cash right now. It makes sense that people would flock to savings bonds, where you can get a guaranteed return of almost 10%. Why was the rush not anticipated?

If inflation remains high, the next rate adjustment in November could continue to generate extraordinary interest in bonds.

The Treasury Department’s Office of Public Debt first put Series I Digital Savings Bonds online in 2002. TreasuryDirect, at treasurydirect.gov, was launched in 2004. The site feels like a blast from the past. It needs an update as soon as possible, starting with making it easier for users to change banking information.

The department says that to provide additional security, people should print out a Bank Change Request – Form FS 5512. Then people should sign the form in the presence of “an authorized certifying officer available at a bank, company trust or a credit union“.

The form must have some type of seal or stamp.

In a YouTube video, the Treasury Department says, “Note that notary, circular 888, and bank address stamps are not acceptable. Acceptable stamps include the institution’s seal or stamp, medallion stamps recognized by the Treasury, stamps secured by endorsement, or a stamp secured by signature.

It’s a good time to buy that inflation-linked savings bond

Have you been to a bank branch lately?

I have. I just needed the bank notary a mortgage document. I had to call to find a branch that had a notary on staff. I had to make an appointment. Once I arrived I waited about 10 minutes ringing a bell before one of the few people working in the branch could let me in.

Once the TreasuryDirect form is printed, signed, and stamped correctly, you should mail it to an office in Minneapolis and then wait for a response from the Treasury Department.

What in the world? Is it 1999 from Prince?

And what about people unable to navigate the online process or get to a bank branch?

“My husband and I are NOT familiar with electronics,” one woman from Florida emailed. “I’m having trouble sending emails and that’s about it. We’re wondering if you or someone can help us. We don’t know if, being challenged like we are with the electronic devices, we would be prevented from investing in them.

Yes, it’s important to make sure scammers don’t compromise the online system, and we know they will try. But this process is far too laborious.

“We are committed to ensuring TreasuryDirect users have a positive customer experience, which is why the Treasury is currently developing a modern, updated replacement for the current TreasuryDirect system,” the department statement read. .

And when will that happen?

He did not provide a timetable.

The Treasury Department takes care of a lot. He manages the technological mess at the tax office. Millions of tax returns are still in a processing nightmare. As of May 6, the IRS said it had 9.8 million unprocessed individual returns, which includes returns from the 2021 tax season.

The IRS’ online account system is also in desperate need of an update, National Taxpayer Advocate Erin M. Collins complained recently in a blog post.

“In today’s digital environment, consumers expect the convenience of performing actions on their accounts without the need for face-to-face or phone assistance,” Collins wrote, adding: “Imagine what the IRS can accomplish and how much time and effort it could save if taxpayers could easily access their tax information online. I would stop just imagining that.

It’s not just the IRS that needs robust online accessibility. The same can be said about TreasuryDirect. In the computer years, the site is practically primitive.

Ahead of the next rate announcement, TreasuryDirect needs an update as the popularity of I bonds is not going to wane, especially as the markets continue their frantic run.

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