How to Cash in a Certificate of Deposit If the Bank Has No Record of It

A certificate of deposit is a bank savings instrument that gives the account owner a set interest rate for a specified period of time. Account owners can take the interest out on a regular basis or allow the CD to accrue earnings until the CD matures. Historically, when a CD was opened a physical certificate was given to the account owner. With today's computer monitoring of accounts, many banks only give a certificate upon request. Without this certificate, you may have a difficult time cashing in a CD in the unlikely event that the bank has no record of it.

Gather all information you have regarding the CD in question. Include any receipts, applications and signature cards you filled out when the CD was opened. A physical certificate is legally binding as a deposit.

Take all the information you have to the bank where the CD was opened or where you are trying to cash it. You may have moved or the bank may have merged, thus the place where you opened the CD may not be the place you are trying to cash it.

Speak with the branch manager about cashing in your CD. Provide him with the certificate if you have one. If you don't have one, provide him with all other documentation and request a search conducted regarding the account. Search the computer system under your Social Security number, other account numbers, your name and closely spelled name in case there was a typographical error.

Request an audit of your accounts during the period when the CD was presumably opened. Banks keep meticulous records going back at least seven years for daily deposits. If one of your bank statements reflects a large transaction such as $10,000 being moved, the bank should be able to trace that.

Check with the state controller's office. If the account was considered abandoned because of returned mail or inactivity for more than five years, it would be turned over to the state controller's office where it's held in trust for owners or heirs until claimed.


  • Keep meticulous records of all your bank accounts in a safe place such as a home fireproof safe, lockbox or safe deposit box. If the bank doesn't have a record and you have no proof, there is little you can do to reclaim your CD assets.