Demand for inflation-linked savings bonds crashes TreasuryDirect website

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People looking for a respite from inflation have flooded the phone lines and the Treasury Department website to try to buy Series I savings bonds, which has resulted in much longer waits than usual. It is the latest example of obsolete government computer systems that cause distress to Americans.

On May 2, the Treasury Department announced that inflation-protected I bonds will earn at least 9.62 percent interest. until the end of October. A day later, TreasuryDirect, the website that people have to use to buy bonuses, crashed.

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

The department has relocated staff to handle the largest volume of calls, the spokesman said.

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

You can buy up to $ 10,000 in bonus I every calendar year. But there are ways to increase that amount, such as using your federal tax refund to buy an additional $ 5,000 in paper I bonuses. .

Susan H. Nadler, a New York-based certified public accountant, said she tried to send an email and call the Treasury Department to find out if her company could buy I bonds. She waited for two hours before giving up. of trying to get an answer. (The department later emailed him that, yes, his business could buy I bonds.)

“And the website, while probably answering all the questions or almost all the questions you might have, is very clumsy and hard to find things and maneuver,” Nadler said. “They’re just adding something that’s very old.”

Others are being locked into accounts they have set up to buy I bonds, or are being told that the Treasury Department has never executed a purchase request even after checking all of them. theirs the bank information was correct.

With the stock market continuing to fall and banks paying unfortunate rates on current, savings and money market accounts, people are fleeing Series I bonds, which were created to keep pace with inflation.

According to more experts, the US could be in recession next year

I bonuses are one of the safest places to park some money right now. It makes sense for people to go to the savings bond, where you can get a guaranteed return of almost 10 percent. Why wasn’t the rush anticipated?

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

The Treasury Department’s Office of Public Debt made digital Series I savings bonds available for purchase online in 2002. TreasuryDirect, was launched in 2004. The site looks like a blast from the past. You need an update as soon as possible, starting with making it easier for people to edit your bank information.

The department says that to provide additional security, people have to print a bank change application – Form FS 5512. Then people have to sign the form in the presence of “an authorized certifying officer available at a bank, trust or cooperative company of credit “.

The form must have a certain type of stamp or stamp.

In a YouTube video, the Treasury Department says, “Please note that notary stamps, Circular 888 and bank addresses are not accepted. Acceptable stamps include the institution’s corporate seal or seal, medallion stamps recognized by the Treasury, guaranteed stamps or a guaranteed signature stamp.

Now is a good time to buy this inflation-indexed savings bond

Have you been in a bank branch lately?

I have. I just needed the bank to certify 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 for the doorbell to ring 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 must mail it to a Minneapolis office and then wait for a response from the Treasury Department.

What in the world? Is this the 1999 Prince?

And what about people who can’t navigate the process online or reach a bank branch?

“My husband and I have NO knowledge in the world of electronics,” a Florida woman emailed. “I find it hard to do email and that’s it. We wonder if you or someone can help us. We don’t know if, being challenged as we are with electronic devices, we’d be left out of investing in them.”

Yes, it is important to make sure that scammers do not compromise the online system and we know they will try. But this process is too laborious.

“We are committed to ensuring that TreasuryDirect users have a positive customer experience, so Treasury is currently in the process of developing an updated and modern replacement for the current TreasuryDirect system,” the department said in a statement.

And when will this happen?

He did not provide a calendar.

The Ministry of Finance is dealing a lot. He’s dealing with the tech mess at the IRS. Millions of tax returns remain in a processing nightmare. As of May 6, the IRS said it had 9.8 million individual unprocessed returns, which include returns for the 2021 fiscal season.

The IRS’s online billing system also desperately needs an update, National Taxpayer Advocate Erin M. Collins recently complained in a blog post.

“In today’s digital environment, consumers have to wait for the convenience of completing actions on their accounts without the need for face-to-face or telephone 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’d like to stop imagining this. “

It’s not just the IRS that needs strong online accessibility. The same can be said of TreasuryDirect. In the computer years, the site is pretty much primitive.

Before the next rate announcement, TreasuryDirect needs an update, because the popularity of the I bonds will not diminish, especially as the markets continue their wild path.

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