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Public Debt to End Walk-In Service for Treasury Securities

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

May 3, 1999

The Bureau of the Public Debt announced today that due to increasing customer use of its new telephone and Internet services, Treasury securities walk-in service at 37 locations will be discontinued, the first step in a process to save taxpayers $5 million annually.

At the close of business August 31, 1999, the Bureau will shut down the Treasury security window operations at 36 Federal Reserve Banks and the Capital Area Servicing Center in Washington, D.C. Then, over the next few years, Public Debt will create customer call centers at the Federal Reserve Banks in Boston, Minneapolis and Dallas. Accessible by a toll-free phone number, the call centers will serve customers of TreasuryDirect, the Bureau's direct-hold program for Treasury bills, notes and bonds. Until the call centers are fully operational, TreasuryDirect customers should continue to do business by mail and phone with their regular servicing offices. When completed, the changes will save about $5 million per year.

“Combined with an existing array of automated services available by phone and Internet, the centers will create a modern service environment that not only saves money for the taxpayer, but adds convenience for the customer,” Public Debt Commissioner Van Zeck said.

Public Debt introduced the new business environment for TreasuryDirect in August 1997, by allowing customers to reinvest securities electronically. Today, more than half of all reinvestments and nearly 40 percent of purchases are transacted over the phone and Internet.

Partly because of the popularity of the phone and Internet services, Public Debt estimates that less than 2 percent of its 620,000 TreasuryDirect investors conduct business in person. Even before the electronic services were introduced, most customers did business by mail rather than in person.

The shutdown of walk-in services also affects owners of Treasury registered and bearer paper securities. The processing of those instruments will be transferred to Public Debt's operations center in Parkersburg, WV. The Department of the Treasury stopped issuing marketable note and bond certificates in 1986. The paper bonds still outstanding represent less than one-fourth of 1 percent of the marketable debt. Because redemption and other transactions in paper Treasury bonds are expected to number only about 5,000 each year, continuing to service these securities at 37 locations would be too costly.

Investors holding registered and bearer certificates can deposit them into a TreasuryDirect account free of charge through Public Debt's Smart Exchange program. Those investors wishing to convert their securities to safe, convenient TreasuryDirect accounts should contact Public Debt at 1-800-366-3144.

Most investors who own Treasury bearer bonds find it more convenient to have commercial banks handle their interest coupons. The few customers who present coupons in person at Federal Reserve Banks can continue to do so until August 31, 1999. After that date those investors can mail coupons to Federal Reserve offices.

The termination of walk-in service also will impact a small number of savings bond customers. Public Debt consolidated savings bond processing at five Federal Reserve offices several years ago. Window service for savings bonds at the Federal Reserve offices in Buffalo, Kansas City, Minneapolis, Pittsburgh and Richmond will end after August 31. Savings bond investors can, as always, look to their local financial institutions for service. More than 40,000 banks, savings and loans, and credit unions serve as savings bond issuing and paying agents.

All other services offered by Federal Reserve Banks to walk-in visitors will remain unchanged.