Anyone else struggling to buy I bonds because of "Certifying Officer" signature?

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simpleidiot
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Anyone else struggling to buy I bonds because of "Certifying Officer" signature?

Post by simpleidiot »

My wife has been pestering me to buy I bonds. So we sit down and create accounts at treasurydirect. Both of our confirmation emails say they are having trouble verifying our info, and we will need to obtain a special signature guarantee from a "Certifying Officer" at a financial institution on a paper form 5444, and snail mail it to Minnesota, before we can proceed.
The only bank I use with a physical branch is Wells Fargo, and the manager says they refuse to offer such a service and stopped doing it 5 years ago.

A quick google reveals this nightmare is extremely common, and many/most banks refuse to participate in these signatures. Have any Bogleheads encountered this situation and found a solution?

FYI I use WF for physical branches, Marcus for online savings, and Vanguard for most else. What a pain!
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retired@50
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Re: Anyone else struggling to buy I bonds because of "Certifying Officer" signature?

Post by retired@50 »

See this thread: viewtopic.php?p=5842584#p5842584

Probably a medallion signature will do.

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TheGreyingDuke
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Re: Anyone else struggling to buy I bonds because of "Certifying Officer" signature?

Post by TheGreyingDuke »

In my limited experience, credit unions are the best bet for a medallion signature.
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simpleidiot
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Re: Anyone else struggling to buy I bonds because of "Certifying Officer" signature?

Post by simpleidiot »

Thanks folks, but it seems the people on that thread had no problem getting the signature from their bank.

Do banks or credit unions that *DO* provide signatures perform the service to non-clients?

Any other Boglers caught between TD requiring a signature and your bank refusing to participate?
Buy the truth and do not sell it; get wisdom, discipline, and understanding.
Pixafari
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Re: Anyone else struggling to buy I bonds because of "Certifying Officer" signature?

Post by Pixafari »

Same experience here. Visited three different Truist branches, one of which we obtained a Medallion stamp some time ago, and none could accommodate our request. I called a Fidelity branch 30 miles away to see if they could and was told no. I’m about ready to throw in the towel.
TheGreyingDuke
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Re: Anyone else struggling to buy I bonds because of "Certifying Officer" signature?

Post by TheGreyingDuke »

simpleidiot wrote: Tue May 10, 2022 4:40 pm Thanks folks, but it seems the people on that thread had no problem getting the signature from their bank.

Do banks or credit unions that *DO* provide signatures perform the service to non-clients?

Any other Boglers caught between TD requiring a signature and your bank refusing to participate?
I doubt they wold provide you with a guarantee if you are not a client; each credit union I have utilized for such a service has always asked for my account number. And keep in mind that the various officers are bonded for different amounts that they are guaranteeing, not sure how it works for an empty account.
"Every time I see an adult on a bicycle, I no longer despair for the future of the human race." H.G. Wells
BogleFan510
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Re: Anyone else struggling to buy I bonds because of "Certifying Officer" signature?

Post by BogleFan510 »

simpleidiot wrote: Tue May 10, 2022 4:15 pm My wife has been pestering me to buy I bonds. So we sit down and create accounts at treasurydirect. Both of our confirmation emails say they are having trouble verifying our info, and we will need to obtain a special signature guarantee from a "Certifying Officer" at a financial institution on a paper form 5444, and snail mail it to Minnesota, before we can proceed.
The only bank I use with a physical branch is Wells Fargo, and the manager says they refuse to offer such a service and stopped doing it 5 years ago.

A quick google reveals this nightmare is extremely common, and many/most banks refuse to participate in these signatures. Have any Bogleheads encountered this situation and found a solution?

FYI I use WF for physical branches, Marcus for online savings, and Vanguard for most else. What a pain!
Yes. Solution was to give up and close my Chase Acct and JPM Brokerage accts. Dont need a brick and mortar bank if they wont do brick and mortar stuff.
We noticed a court or military officer can do it for the form, so you might try your local court house.
BrokerageZelda
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Re: Anyone else struggling to buy I bonds because of "Certifying Officer" signature?

Post by BrokerageZelda »

A Signature Guarantee for FS Form 5444 is not necessarily the same thing as a Medallion Signature Guarantee; this is a common misconception and because FS Form 5444 does not involve the transfer of securities, many financial institutions will be reluctant to use their Medallion stamp on this form, if they have one at all.

Harry Sit's blog has a good review of the different ways to certify, including a financial institution's notary as a last resort with a note of explanation:
https://thefinancebuff.com/treasurydire ... bonds.html

When I go to my local credit union with a savings bond form, I receive a 'savings bond paying agent stamp', which is also used when redeeming paper savings bonds. Therefore, any financial institution that redeems paper savings bonds will have this stamp available. This 'PAID' imprint (even though it isn't explicitly designed for certifying signatures on forms) is acceptable to TreasuryDirect for forms involving savings bonds.
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gwe67
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Re: Anyone else struggling to buy I bonds because of "Certifying Officer" signature?

Post by gwe67 »

Sounds easier than buying mutual funds. /s
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illumination
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Re: Anyone else struggling to buy I bonds because of "Certifying Officer" signature?

Post by illumination »

I was helping my parents buy some of these, and they "flagged" them and they couldn't proceed. No idea why, but they still have never got around to getting it done when we tried last year. Probably never will, being elderly, it's not exactly easy to get them places and banks are increasingly hostile to accommodating these sorts of services.

Seems like a really dumb issue for the Treasury to get in the weeds on and prevents a lot of people from buying them imo. Why is it I can do a tax return without this form or wire vast amounts of money, but someone buying a $10k government bond needs a person to jump through this silly hoop to verify their identity?
Last edited by illumination on Tue May 10, 2022 5:48 pm, edited 1 time in total.
rkhusky
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Re: Anyone else struggling to buy I bonds because of "Certifying Officer" signature?

Post by rkhusky »

I would have my wife figure it out.
mega317
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Re: Anyone else struggling to buy I bonds because of "Certifying Officer" signature?

Post by mega317 »

simpleidiot wrote: Tue May 10, 2022 4:15 pm My wife has been pestering me to buy I bonds.
Sounds like a keeper!

My wife just opened an account and didn’t have to do anything like this??
https://www.bogleheads.org/forum/viewtopic.php?t=6212
Fat Tails
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Re: Anyone else struggling to buy I bonds because of "Certifying Officer" signature?

Post by Fat Tails »

illumination wrote: Tue May 10, 2022 5:47 pm I was helping my parents buy some of these, and they "flagged" them and they couldn't proceed. No idea why, but they still have never got around to getting it done when we tried last year. Probably never will, being elderly, it's not exactly easy to get them places and banks are increasingly hostile to accommodating these sorts of services.

Seems like a really dumb issue for the Treasury to get in the weeds on and prevents a lot of people from buying them imo. Why is it I can do a tax return without this form or wire vast amounts of money, but someone buying a $10k government bond needs a person to jump through this silly hoop to verify their identity?
Same thing happened to me opening the accounts for my parents just last week. Mom’s sailed right through, dad’s couldn’t be “verified” online. Everything was the identical for them including the joint checking account source of funds. A big annoyance for only $10k of Ibonds each. Don’t lose the security questions and associated answers.

Good luck.
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golfrgirl
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Re: Anyone else struggling to buy I bonds because of "Certifying Officer" signature?

Post by golfrgirl »

Count me as one with this problem. However, my workaround this year has been to have my husband gift my share to me from his account.
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JoMoney
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Re: Anyone else struggling to buy I bonds because of "Certifying Officer" signature?

Post by JoMoney »

I had problems getting a signature stamp from the credit union I had been with for years.
I opened an account at Chase (got a new account cash bonus to do so as well) and the local branch (after a minor hassle) was willing to assist with a Medallion stamp on the Treasury Direct form.

FWIW, there are reports ( over here viewtopic.php?p=6315004#p6315004 ... as well as a NYTimes article that I don't have a link too ) that Treasury Direct will sometimes accept a notary stamp as long as its from a bank employee.
... Which is odd because the form says explicitly notary is not acceptable, but apparently it has been done and accepted if it's from a bank employee...
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Re: Anyone else struggling to buy I bonds because of "Certifying Officer" signature?

Post by mega317 »

JoMoney wrote: Tue May 10, 2022 9:38 pm I opened an account at Chase (got a new account cash bonus to do so as well) and the local branch (after a minor hassle) was willing to assist with a Medallion stamp on the Treasury Direct form.
Last time I needed one, I went into my Chase branch and they told me no Chase doesn't do that. I drove <1 mile to the next branch and got it done in 5 minutes (also after a minor hassle, what is the point in hassling your customers just to end up doing the thing anyway?). There is no rhyme or reason.
https://www.bogleheads.org/forum/viewtopic.php?t=6212
SurferLife
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Re: Anyone else struggling to buy I bonds because of "Certifying Officer" signature?

Post by SurferLife »

I wonder what causes this to happen in the first place. Are your credit reports locked down and maybe this is why?
kvdecide
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Re: Anyone else struggling to buy I bonds because of "Certifying Officer" signature?

Post by kvdecide »

Can you imagine the plight of US citizens living abroad who try to open a TD account;-) I gave up on TD. The site needs a US address to open an account. That is where the problem begins. Address is not a "constant" - both for US citizens living in US and abroad.

I think the TD website uses address as a very significant parameter to define a profile. They should be using Passport number or SSN instead. This will reduce the "verification" problems so many people are facing.

Passport number (any maybe expiry date) guarantees that the applicant is a US citizen. SSN is a tax payer ID. Either, or both, of these should have been enough!

Oh well, its only a 10k USD limitation on the I bond. If the limit ever rises to 100k, I will gather the will to call them and stay on hold for 4 hours:-)
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Re: Anyone else struggling to buy I bonds because of "Certifying Officer" signature?

Post by Seal the Deal »

SurferLife wrote: Tue May 10, 2022 10:29 pm I wonder what causes this to happen in the first place. Are your credit reports locked down and maybe this is why?
Both me and my wife have a credit freeze and we were able to open TD accounts recently. No idea what the issue is.
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Re: Anyone else struggling to buy I bonds because of "Certifying Officer" signature?

Post by HueyLD »

Seal the Deal wrote: Wed May 11, 2022 7:29 am
SurferLife wrote: Tue May 10, 2022 10:29 pm I wonder what causes this to happen in the first place. Are your credit reports locked down and maybe this is why?
Both me and my wife have a credit freeze and we were able to open TD accounts recently. No idea what the issue is.
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Re: Anyone else struggling to buy I bonds because of "Certifying Officer" signature?

Post by OpenMinded1 »

retired@50 wrote: Tue May 10, 2022 4:23 pm See this thread: viewtopic.php?p=5842584#p5842584

Probably a medallion signature will do.

Regards,
A medallion signature guarantee worked for me. I didn't even have an account at the bank where they did it. I've seen so many complaints about this. It's a little inconvenient, but a "nightmare??" Not that big of a deal.
Last edited by OpenMinded1 on Wed May 11, 2022 8:13 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Anyone else struggling to buy I bonds because of "Certifying Officer" signature?

Post by OpenMinded1 »

OpenMinded1 wrote: Wed May 11, 2022 8:02 am
retired@50 wrote: Tue May 10, 2022 4:23 pm See this thread: viewtopic.php?p=5842584#p5842584

Probably a medallion signature will do.

Regards,
A medallion signature guarantee worked for me. I didn't even have an account at the bank where they did it. I've seen so many complaints about this. It's a little inconvenient, but a "nightmare." Not that big of a deal.
A Chase bank did it for me by the way. Maybe a bank that you have a credit card with would be more likely to do it, even if you don't have bank accounts with them. However, like I said, Chase did a medallion signature guarantee for me, virtually no questions asked. I think they asked for ID and that was about it.
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Re: Anyone else struggling to buy I bonds because of "Certifying Officer" signature?

Post by langelgjm »

kvdecide wrote: Wed May 11, 2022 7:05 am Can you imagine the plight of US citizens living abroad who try to open a TD account;-) I gave up on TD. The site needs a US address to open an account. That is where the problem begins. Address is not a "constant" - both for US citizens living in US and abroad.

I think the TD website uses address as a very significant parameter to define a profile. They should be using Passport number or SSN instead. This will reduce the "verification" problems so many people are facing.

Passport number (any maybe expiry date) guarantees that the applicant is a US citizen. SSN is a tax payer ID. Either, or both, of these should have been enough!

Oh well, its only a 10k USD limitation on the I bond. If the limit ever rises to 100k, I will gather the will to call them and stay on hold for 4 hours:-)
Needing a U.S. address to purchase U.S. securities is a common hurdle that many U.S. expats face, there's nothing unique to TreasuryDirect in that regard.

Re: the certifying officer requirement, U.S. expats can have their TD paperwork certified by U.S. embassy or consular officers. Though this is unusual enough paperwork that it's probably worth printing out 31 CFR § 363.43 and being prepared to explain what you're trying to do to the officer.
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AnnikaW
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Re: Anyone else struggling to buy I bonds because of "Certifying Officer" signature?

Post by AnnikaW »

I got mine done at a Credit Union. The "teller" had to ask his manager how to do it. Ask a branch manager. They may be more helpful
kvdecide
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Re: Anyone else struggling to buy I bonds because of "Certifying Officer" signature?

Post by kvdecide »

langelgjm wrote: Wed May 11, 2022 8:33 am
kvdecide wrote: Wed May 11, 2022 7:05 am Can you imagine the plight of US citizens living abroad who try to open a TD account;-) I gave up on TD. The site needs a US address to open an account. That is where the problem begins. Address is not a "constant" - both for US citizens living in US and abroad.

I think the TD website uses address as a very significant parameter to define a profile. They should be using Passport number or SSN instead. This will reduce the "verification" problems so many people are facing.

Passport number (any maybe expiry date) guarantees that the applicant is a US citizen. SSN is a tax payer ID. Either, or both, of these should have been enough!

Oh well, its only a 10k USD limitation on the I bond. If the limit ever rises to 100k, I will gather the will to call them and stay on hold for 4 hours:-)
Needing a U.S. address to purchase U.S. securities is a common hurdle that many U.S. expats face, there's nothing unique to TreasuryDirect in that regard.

Re: the certifying officer requirement, U.S. expats can have their TD paperwork certified by U.S. embassy or consular officers. Though this is unusual enough paperwork that it's probably worth printing out 31 CFR § 363.43 and being prepared to explain what you're trying to do to the officer.
Yes, expats could go to a US embassy to get certification, but it still wont solve the fundamental problem. Expats' address will not be in USA. They will have a foreign address. And the Consular officer will certify that the expat's address is a foreign address -- will this help the expat to open an online account at TD? I doubt it - as online accounts at TD need explicit and verifiable US address.

The disconnect can be summarized as follows:
1. TD needs the applicant to have a verifiable US address to open an online account.
2. Series I bonds CAN be purchased by US citizens living abroad.
3. But series I bonds can ONLY be purchased by opening an online TD account :( :(
4. Therefore expats will be unable to purchase Series I bonds (unless they just left USA and happen to still have a valid US drivers' license using which they were luckily able to open an online TD account)
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langelgjm
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Re: Anyone else struggling to buy I bonds because of "Certifying Officer" signature?

Post by langelgjm »

kvdecide wrote: Wed May 11, 2022 11:32 am
langelgjm wrote: Wed May 11, 2022 8:33 am
kvdecide wrote: Wed May 11, 2022 7:05 am Can you imagine the plight of US citizens living abroad who try to open a TD account;-) I gave up on TD. The site needs a US address to open an account. That is where the problem begins. Address is not a "constant" - both for US citizens living in US and abroad.

I think the TD website uses address as a very significant parameter to define a profile. They should be using Passport number or SSN instead. This will reduce the "verification" problems so many people are facing.

Passport number (any maybe expiry date) guarantees that the applicant is a US citizen. SSN is a tax payer ID. Either, or both, of these should have been enough!

Oh well, its only a 10k USD limitation on the I bond. If the limit ever rises to 100k, I will gather the will to call them and stay on hold for 4 hours:-)
Needing a U.S. address to purchase U.S. securities is a common hurdle that many U.S. expats face, there's nothing unique to TreasuryDirect in that regard.

Re: the certifying officer requirement, U.S. expats can have their TD paperwork certified by U.S. embassy or consular officers. Though this is unusual enough paperwork that it's probably worth printing out 31 CFR § 363.43 and being prepared to explain what you're trying to do to the officer.
Yes, expats could go to a US embassy to get certification, but it still wont solve the fundamental problem. Expats' address will not be in USA. They will have a foreign address. And the Consular officer will certify that the expat's address is a foreign address -- will this help the expat to open an online account at TD? I doubt it - as online accounts at TD need explicit and verifiable US address.

The disconnect can be summarized as follows:
1. TD needs the applicant to have a verifiable US address to open an online account.
2. Series I bonds CAN be purchased by US citizens living abroad.
3. But series I bonds can ONLY be purchased by opening an online TD account :( :(
4. Therefore expats will be unable to purchase Series I bonds (unless they just left USA and happen to still have a valid US drivers' license using which they were luckily able to open an online TD account)
The certifying officer is not certifying the address you provided, they are certifying the identity of the individual (you) signing the form. Just like how a notary doesn't care what's on your document, their job is just to verify that you signed the document.

1. TD requires, by statute, an "address of record". The account authorization refers to this as "home address" but that's not quite the same. It is possible to be an expat but still maintain a US address of record.
2. Correct.
3. Incorrect. Paper Series I bonds can also be purchased via tax refund without a TD account. There are many threads on this forum where people complain about that process, too.
4. If an expat did not already open a TD account before leaving the US, and they cannot find a way to provide a US address of record while abroad to open a new account, I guess not.
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Re: Anyone else struggling to buy I bonds because of "Certifying Officer" signature?

Post by MrCheapo »

simpleidiot wrote: Tue May 10, 2022 4:15 pm My wife has been pestering me to buy I bonds. So we sit down and create accounts at treasurydirect. Both of our confirmation emails say they are having trouble verifying our info, and we will need to obtain a special signature guarantee from a "Certifying Officer" at a financial institution on a paper form 5444, and snail mail it to Minnesota, before we can proceed.
The only bank I use with a physical branch is Wells Fargo, and the manager says they refuse to offer such a service and stopped doing it 5 years ago.

A quick google reveals this nightmare is extremely common, and many/most banks refuse to participate in these signatures. Have any Bogleheads encountered this situation and found a solution?

FYI I use WF for physical branches, Marcus for online savings, and Vanguard for most else. What a pain!
Not a nightmare, just a challenge of finding the right person. I went into my BOA and asked "who has experience as a certifying officer signoff for i-bonds". They eventually found the right person who knew what stamps to apply etc.
Stoic9
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Re: Anyone else struggling to buy I bonds because of "Certifying Officer" signature?

Post by Stoic9 »


Yes. Solution was to give up and close my Chase Acct and JPM Brokerage accts. Dont need a brick and mortar bank if they wont do brick and mortar stuff.
We noticed a court or military officer can do it for the form, so you might try your local court house.
Can you site where it says military officer? Do you just mail a copy of your ID card?
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Re: Anyone else struggling to buy I bonds because of "Certifying Officer" signature?

Post by moneyman11 »

All this just for 0% real returns. Fun!
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langelgjm
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Re: Anyone else struggling to buy I bonds because of "Certifying Officer" signature?

Post by langelgjm »

Stoic9 wrote: Wed May 11, 2022 2:22 pm Can you site where it says military officer? Do you just mail a copy of your ID card?
Military officer (specifically "Commissioned or warrant officers of the United States Armed Forces") is only relevant for "for signatures executed by Armed Forces personnel, civilian field employees, and members of their families".

"A judge or clerk of the court" is possible for anyone. Note that it doesn't say federal court, so you may have better luck with a local/state court clerk.

These are all from https://www.law.cornell.edu/cfr/text/31/363.43
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Re: Anyone else struggling to buy I bonds because of "Certifying Officer" signature?

Post by j9j »

This thread reminded me that I needed to add a bank account to my account. I log in and reading through the different account processes and my account Gets locked. Did not change any settings, no changing email, phone anything. Seemingly random lockout and only way to unlock is to call them.

Well I tried today and it states two+ hour hold. Ok well I can just have it hold while I am working. It turns out that while being on hold, it constantly does the ringing and message prompts instead of hold music until it’s your turn. I found it excruciatingly distracting and disconnected after an hour.

At the moment stuck as no way I can work through that horrible hold process.
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Re: Anyone else struggling to buy I bonds because of "Certifying Officer" signature?

Post by BBurki »

When I opened accounts for my wife and I, the website didn't make me go through the signature process. Now that I want to edit our bank info (HSBC got sold to Citizens) they're making me get a signature. Major bummer. Seems like I heard somewhere they're working on changing the process. But I'm not sure I'd hold my breath!
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simpleidiot
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Re: Anyone else struggling to buy I bonds because of "Certifying Officer" signature?

Post by simpleidiot »

rkhusky wrote: Tue May 10, 2022 5:48 pm I would have my wife figure it out.
Ha! I did put her on the case. Here is the updated saga for my BH friends:

Wife calls TD customer service to ask for guidance. Waits through 2 hour hold and gets relatively helpful rep.

Wife: Why was our account locked?
Rep: We don't know.
Wife: We need this signature guarantee, but our bank refuses to participate.
Rep: Yeah, that's a known issue, have them call me.
Wife: Have the bank call you? I just waited on hold for two hours.
Rep: Have them call my direct number and I can talk them through it.

I'm imagining the conversation with the bank manager: "Hi, I know you explicitly refused to offer this service, but can you please call this Treasury Direct rep so she can talk you into it?"

Hoo boy. Maybe I'll try a Chase branch as suggested above, since we do have a CC with them. I know it's not a true "nightmare," but dang, turning what was supposed to be a 5 minute online transaction into a desperate search of local financial institutions willing to sign some form is not fun.
Let me know if any of you in the CA Bay Area have had success at a bank/CU where you are NOT a client. Thanks!
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Piper59
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Re: Anyone else struggling to buy I bonds because of "Certifying Officer" signature?

Post by Piper59 »

simpleidiot wrote: Tue May 10, 2022 4:15 pm My wife has been pestering me to buy I bonds. So we sit down and create accounts at treasurydirect. Both of our confirmation emails say they are having trouble verifying our info, and we will need to obtain a special signature guarantee from a "Certifying Officer" at a financial institution on a paper form 5444, and snail mail it to Minnesota, before we can proceed.
The only bank I use with a physical branch is Wells Fargo, and the manager says they refuse to offer such a service and stopped doing it 5 years ago.

A quick google reveals this nightmare is extremely common, and many/most banks refuse to participate in these signatures. Have any Bogleheads encountered this situation and found a solution?

FYI I use WF for physical branches, Marcus for online savings, and Vanguard for most else. What a pain!
I had to call in a favor with one of my friends that works at Synovus. I'm also a Wells Fargo Customer and they would not do anything for me. Guess where I'll be taking my business if future?
kvdecide
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Re: Anyone else struggling to buy I bonds because of "Certifying Officer" signature?

Post by kvdecide »

moneyman11 wrote: Wed May 11, 2022 2:39 pm All this just for 0% real returns. Fun!
Yes. Irony! isnt it?
The glass half full way of looking at it is, " All this just to make sure we keep the head above water - i.e., we have the same purchasing power, a few years from now, that we have today" !
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Re: Anyone else struggling to buy I bonds because of "Certifying Officer" signature?

Post by samsoes »

j9j wrote: Wed May 11, 2022 3:52 pm This thread reminded me that I needed to add a bank account to my account. I log in and reading through the different account processes and my account Gets locked. Did not change any settings, no changing email, phone anything. Seemingly random lockout and only way to unlock is to call them.

Well I tried today and it states two+ hour hold. Ok well I can just have it hold while I am working. It turns out that while being on hold, it constantly does the ringing and message prompts instead of hold music until it’s your turn. I found it excruciatingly distracting and disconnected after an hour.

At the moment stuck as no way I can work through that horrible hold process.
While reading through the site, did you happen to hit the "back" button on your browser? That is a TD mortal sin which locks accounts.
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j9j
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Re: Anyone else struggling to buy I bonds because of "Certifying Officer" signature?

Post by j9j »

samsoes wrote: Thu May 12, 2022 2:07 pm
j9j wrote: Wed May 11, 2022 3:52 pm This thread reminded me that I needed to add a bank account to my account. I log in and reading through the different account processes and my account Gets locked. Did not change any settings, no changing email, phone anything. Seemingly random lockout and only way to unlock is to call them.
While reading through the site, did you happen to hit the "back" button on your browser? That is a TD mortal sin which locks accounts.
It is quite possible I might have it “back” as I was reviewing info on converting paper bonds and adding new bank account.

At the moment I am stuck in neverland as not sure how I will be able to tolerate their on hold system for 2,3,4 hours. With all the required security questions, one would have hoped they had self-service unlock/password reset.
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simpleidiot
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Re: Anyone else struggling to buy I bonds because of "Certifying Officer" signature?

Post by simpleidiot »

Update for those keeping track at home:
Contacted my three local Chase branches, all refused to participate. One rep was knowledgeable and helpful (though he still refused to participate, citing company policy). He said they've been getting a lot of these form 5444 requests because of I-bonds, and his suggestion was similar to the blog post someone linked above: have the form signed by a notary (though the form explicitly says notary is not acceptable) and send with an explanatory note saying no bank would participate.

Please let me know if anyone has had success with this method, and please let me know if someone finds a CA Bay area bank willing to participate
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mega317
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Re: Anyone else struggling to buy I bonds because of "Certifying Officer" signature?

Post by mega317 »

Did you try walking into a branch? Sometimes it's harder to say no to someone's face. From my house I can hit at least 5 Chase branches in an hour. I'd do that before I took the time to go through a process that is explicitly not acceptable to the treasury. Even though there is apparently a chance it will work.
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langelgjm
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Re: Anyone else struggling to buy I bonds because of "Certifying Officer" signature?

Post by langelgjm »

BrokerageZelda wrote: Tue May 10, 2022 5:28 pm A Signature Guarantee for FS Form 5444 is not necessarily the same thing as a Medallion Signature Guarantee; this is a common misconception and because FS Form 5444 does not involve the transfer of securities, many financial institutions will be reluctant to use their Medallion stamp on this form, if they have one at all.

Harry Sit's blog has a good review of the different ways to certify, including a financial institution's notary as a last resort with a note of explanation:
https://thefinancebuff.com/treasurydire ... bonds.html

When I go to my local credit union with a savings bond form, I receive a 'savings bond paying agent stamp', which is also used when redeeming paper savings bonds. Therefore, any financial institution that redeems paper savings bonds will have this stamp available. This 'PAID' imprint (even though it isn't explicitly designed for certifying signatures on forms) is acceptable to TreasuryDirect for forms involving savings bonds.
I think many of the people struggling to open accounts now aren't taking the time to carefully read the form requirements. Everyone gets fixated on MSG but Form 5444 literally says right on the back:
Acceptable seals and stamps:
  • The financial institution’s official seal or stamp, including: Signature Guaranteed seal or stamp; Endorsement
    Guaranteed seal or stamp
    ; Corporate seal or stamp (a corporate resolution isn’t required); or Issuing or paying agent
    seal or stamp
    (including name, location, and four-digit identification number or nine-digit routing number).
  • The seal or stamp of Treasury-recognized Signature Guarantee Programs or other Treasury-approved Medallion
    Programs.
If you have a relationship with a brick and mortar bank or credit union, and they cash paper savings bonds, and you make an appointment for "help with a bank form", show up in person, and politely explain that you'd like the savings bond paying agent stamp on this form, I'd be surprised if you got turned down.

Of course with the surge in demand, maybe banks are getting reluctant to help lots of people sign up for an account with another institution.
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simpleidiot
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Re: Anyone else struggling to buy I bonds because of "Certifying Officer" signature?

Post by simpleidiot »

Saga update for those keeping score at home:

Since my last post, we signed up both my MIL and FIL on the TD.gov site with absolutely no problems. $20k in I-bonds purchased in 10 minutes. A breeze.

My wife and I decided to do an in-person, face-to-face tour of our local financial institutions and try our luck. What an emotional roller coaster. There is no confusion on what is required--a signature guarantee will suffice, medallion not required, etc.

We started at Wells Fargo, where we have a checking account. Got the manager, whom we have known for years. She told us plainly she is well aware of what we are after, but HQ explicitly forbids them to sign these. So sorry, yada yada. Strike 1.

On to Citi, where we have a CC. Got the manager. She looks at the form, and says no problem, just start filling it out and I'll be right over with the stamp. Could it be?! We giddily fill out and sign the forms. What luck! She returns and says I'll just need your ID and debit card and we'll be good to go. Uh-oh, I don't have a Citi debit card or checking account, so I play it cool and confidently slide over the only Citi product I have, the CC. Manager says, "I'm sorry, I can only sign these for depository account holders, CC doesn't count."
"But I'm a Citi customer, I spend thousands every month on this CC, look, it's the same logo on the card and the building we're in right now," I say, pointing to the Citi logo behind the tellers. No dice. She says one must have a depository account for 30 days for her to sign. I can see the stamp, it's within arm's reach, it has a green cover. So close, yet so far. Strike 2.

On to Chase, where we have a CC. Got the manager. He says HQ explicitly does not want them signing these "anymore." He suggests the notary with an explanatory note discussed previously on this thread. Strike 3.

On to BofA, where we USED to have accounts but no longer do. That should count for something, right? Get the assistant manager. She says, "No problem, I can stamp it right now, but you already signed it. I need you to sign it in front of me." (Remember, dear reader, it was signed 40 minutes earlier at the Citi branch!) Is this for real? Am I on Candid Camera, or Punk'd, depending on your generation's hidden camera prank show?? Recovering from my incredulity, I say, "How about we re-sign it in front of you right now? We could even re-trace our signature so it looks tidy." No dice. My wife says, "Do you have any White-out?" No dice! She says if we come back with a blank copy, she'll sign it right now. Please note that at this point she has NOT asked if we are current account holders. I know we are playing with fire, but I decide to gamble on wasting the time driving home, printing out a fresh blank copy, paying the $2.50 parking meter again(!) and returning instead of ruffling any feathers. 15 minutes later we are back. We get the assistant manager. We sign the form in her presence. It's happening! She goes to get the stamp, oh boy! "Now I'll just need your ID and account number." NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO. NO! I explain that we're not CURRENT account holders, but we were in the recent past. No dice! We get the actual manager. He confirms they won't do it without current account for at least 6 months. Strike 4!

Maybe we'll open the Citi account and try again in 30 days, but for now I'm exhausted. Thanks for reading.
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mega317
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Re: Anyone else struggling to buy I bonds because of "Certifying Officer" signature?

Post by mega317 »

I actually said holy ?@&$ out loud. Dude. What is going on higher up at these banks that they don’t want to provide this specific service to their customers. Something easy that they clearly have the ability to do. I would have been tempted to close the checking account on the spot.
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Rainmaker41
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Re: Anyone else struggling to buy I bonds because of "Certifying Officer" signature?

Post by Rainmaker41 »

Open a Citi checking account, put a trivial amount of cash in (enough to avoid any maintenance fees). Then have Citi do the forms 30 days later. If Citi does this, and it works with Treasury Direct, then close the Wells Fargo account with a note indicating your dissatisfaction with their lack of service.
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wolf359
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Re: Anyone else struggling to buy I bonds because of "Certifying Officer" signature?

Post by wolf359 »

langelgjm wrote: Fri May 13, 2022 11:54 am
If you have a relationship with a brick and mortar bank or credit union, and they cash paper savings bonds, and you make an appointment for "help with a bank form", show up in person, and politely explain that you'd like the savings bond paying agent stamp on this form, I'd be surprised if you got turned down.

Of course with the surge in demand, maybe banks are getting reluctant to help lots of people sign up for an account with another institution.
I had problems getting a medallion signature about 5 years ago (and never did succeed.) So I've avoided situations that required it.

When it came time to buy I-Bonds and I got hit with this, I dreaded the process. It was surprisingly very easy.

Because of the difficulty I had last time, I showed up in person, explained I was trying to buy an I-Bond, and needed help with the form to prove I was known to them and had an account. I essentially used the approach described above. I never used the term "Certifying Officer" or "Medallion Signature."

It was framed as buying a US savings bond, which they used to sell. (I don't think they consider Treasury to be a competing institution.) My account with them had been open for more than 30 years, so maybe that was a factor. This was also a credit union, so maybe that was a factor as well.
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Re: Anyone else struggling to buy I bonds because of "Certifying Officer" signature?

Post by BogleMelon »

moneyman11 wrote: Wed May 11, 2022 2:39 pm All this just for 0% real returns. Fun!
It is not 0% real if your personal inflation rate is less than CPI index. Also 0% real is better than -x% real that are offered by the HYSA banks currently
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adestefan
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Re: Anyone else struggling to buy I bonds because of "Certifying Officer" signature?

Post by adestefan »

My credit union was more than happy to do it for me. They even gave it listed in their website. You do need to be a member for more than 90 days.
tidelandp
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Re: Anyone else struggling to buy I bonds because of "Certifying Officer" signature?

Post by tidelandp »

I suggest trying a local community bank that's service oriented. I got my signature at one that boasts an active schedule of community events. It's also a bank where I happen to have an account but I'm not sure that's even a prerequisite. The branch manager asked only if his stamp limit was sufficient for my purposes. I told him it was probably fine since my form was unrelated to sale of securities. No inquiry about the type of relationship, if any, I had with his bank.
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