Restoration of Mutilated Money

Money is valuable to adults, but it is nothing more than green paper to a curious toddler. A couple from Utah recently found that out when they discovered that their two-year-old son Leo put more than $1,000 worth of cash they had stored in an envelope through the family’s paper shredder. Jackee Belnap, Leo’s mother, explains how he was likely only imitating her when he observed her shredding unwanted mail.

Although it is easy to understand how a child young enough to not understand the value of money could do something like this, these parents experienced a sinking feeling when they realized the money they saved had literally been ripped to shreds. The good news is that they can get their money back by submitting the destroyed remains to the Bureau of Engraving and Printing (BEP) operated by the United States Department of the Treasury. The bad news is that it will likely take a minimum of one year.

In another recent instance, a film director from Australia residing in southern California lost thousands of dollars in cash and several other valuable items he had stored in a safe inside of his home during the wildfires. While insurance will cover some of the non-monetary losses, Neil Johnson and his partner Tracey Birsdall will need to go through the same process as the Belnap family to attempt to recover some of the cash they lost.

Johnson stated he kept his cash in a safe at home because he did not trust banks. Unfortunately, the safe burned in the fire along with everything else and left the couple with only the clothes on their backs.

How to Redeem Mutilated Currency

The BEP offers restoration of mutilated currency as a free service to the public. If a person can prove that he or she is the lawful owner of mutilated currency, the BEP will replace it. The agency considers money mutilated when it is difficult to determine its face value due to damage from shredding, fire, water damage, chemical spills, rodent damage, or deterioration and petrification because someone buried the money. Currency is also mutilated if the damage erased proof of certain security features.

Mutilated currency must meet certain qualifications before the BEP will accept it. These include:

  • More than 50 percent of the note remains and it is obvious that it was a product of the United States Department of the Treasury.
  • The bill contains adequate remains of security features recognizable as those produced by the treasury.
  • The evidence included in the submission to the BEP supports that more than 50 percent of the currency has been permanently destroyed.

Processing Expectations

More than 30,000 Americans submit claims to the United States Department of the Treasury every year, resulting in a replacement value of approximately $30 million dollars. The precise nature of the work, coupled with heavy demands, can mean a long wait for people requesting replacement of their mutilated currency. Anyone wishing to start a claim should follow these instructions. You will need an active bank account in the United States for the BEP to deposit the funds to upon completion of your claim.