It happens all the time — a $5 bill ends up in the wash, or the cash is so mangled it won’t go into the vending machine.
Those bills are still worth the paper they’re printed on — if you know what to do.
Len Olijar with the U.S. Treasury’s Bureau of Engraving and Printing, which has a printing facility in Fort Worth, says most people don’t realize the office accepts mutilated money and replaces it free of charge!
What is mutilated currency?
Any badly soiled, dirty, defaced, disintegrated, limp, torn, worn, out currency note that is CLEARLY MORE than one-half of the original note, and does not require special examination to determine its value. These notes should be exchanged through your local bank and processed by the Federal Reserve Bank.
Currency notes which are:
— NOT CLEARLY more than one-half of the original note and/or,
in such condition that the value is questionable and special examination is required to determine its value.
— Currency can become mutilated in any number of ways. The most common causes are: fire, water, chemicals, explosives; animal, insect or rodent damage; and petrification or deterioration by burying. Under regulations issued by the Department of the Treasury, mutilated United — States currency may be exchanged at face value if:
more than 50% of a note identifiable as United States currency is present; or,
— 50% or less of a note identifiable as United States currency is present, and the method of mutilation and supporting evidence demonstrates to the satisfaction of the Treasury that the missing portions have been totally destroyed.
Examples of mutilated currency –
— Burned Currency
— Buried Currency
— Water Damaged Currency
What is not mutilated currency?
— Any badly soiled, dirty, defaced, disintegrated, limp, torn, worn, out currency note that is CLEARLY MORE than one-half of the original note, and does not require special examination to determine its value. These notes should be exchanged through your local bank and processed by the Federal Reserve Bank.
Shipment of mutilated currency
Mutilated currency may be mailed or personally delivered to the Bureau of Engraving and Printing. When mutilated currency is submitted, a letter should be included stating the estimated value of the currency and an explanation of how the currency became mutilated. Each case is carefully examined by an experienced mutilated currency examiner. The amount of time needed to process each case varies with its complexity and the case workload of the examiner.
The Director of the Bureau of Engraving and Printing has the final authority for the settlement of mutilated currency claims.
Although Treasury examiners are usually able to determine the amount and value of mutilated currency, careful packaging is essential to prevent additional damage.
The following procedures should be applied when packing mutilated currency:
— Regardless of the condition of the currency, do not disturb the fragments any more than is absolutely necessary.
— If the currency is brittle or inclined to fall apart, pack it carefully in plastic and cotton without disturbing the fragments and place the package in a secure container.
— If the currency was mutilated in a purse, box, or other container, it should be left in the container to protect the fragments from further damage.
— If it is absolutely necessary to remove the fragments from the container, send the container along with the currency and any other contents that may have currency fragments attached.
— If the currency was flat when mutilated, do not roll or fold the notes.
— If the currency was in a roll when mutilated, do not attempt to unroll or straighten it out.
— For cases that are expected to take longer than eight weeks to process, the Bureau of Engraving and Printing will issue a written confirmation of receipt.
Bureau of Engraving and Printing
P.O. Box 37048
Washington, D. C. 20013
All mutilated currency should be sent by “Registered Mail, Return Receipt Requested.” Insuring the shipment is the responsibility of the sender.
Personal deliveries of mutilated currency to the Bureau of Engraving and Printing are accepted between the hours of 8:00 A.M. and 2:00 P.M., Monday through Friday, except holidays. The Bureau of Engraving and Printing’s Office of Financial Management, Mutilated Currency Division is located at 14th and C Streets, S. W., Washington, D. C.
To obtain information about your mutilated currency shipment, please contact the Mutilated Currency Division using any of the following numbers:
If coin or any other metal is mixed with the currency, carefully remove it. Any fused, melted, or otherwise mutilated coins should be sent to the following address for evaluation:
U. S. Mint
Attn: Mutilated Coins
Post Office Box 400
Philadelphia, PA 19105
Banks will not process mutilated money, however. That must go directly to the Treasury. When cash is severely damaged, the Treasury has specialists trained to identify the ‘remains’ even if you have less than 51 percent. Just mail it in, but it’s critical not to disturb ‘the evidence,’ officials say.
Source: The United States Treasury Bureau of Engraving and Printing