The Mutilated Currency Division
It sounds like something straight out of Harry Potter, but the U.S. Department of the Treasury's Mutilated Currency Division is real and in charge of - you guessed it - mutilated currency. To be clear, they’re not in charge of mutilating the currency, just replacing it. Not only does this division handle more than 30,000 claims a year, totalling $30 million, but the service is free to the public.
The next time you, by mistake, throw a $5 bill in with the wash you can send it to the Mutilated Currency Division and receive a replacement. However, before you ship off thousands of soggy bills, you must determine if they’re eligible for redemption - not all damaged notes are considered ‘mutilated’. All cash must meet the division's strict criteria to be replaced: Mutilated currency “is currency which has been severely damaged... It can become mutilated in any number of ways. The most common causes are fire, water, chemicals, and explosives; animal, insect, or rodent damage; and petrification or deterioration by burying.” Non-mutilated currency “is any badly soiled, dirty, defaced, disintegrated, limp, torn, or 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.” If 50% of the note is remaining and a few crucial security features are intact, you can receive a replacement note at full value. If less than 50% of the note is remaining, you must show sufficient evidence of how it was mutilated and that the missing parts have been completely destroyed. Seems like a LOT of work for a dirty $5 note. Plus, the division is currently suspending all new orders (assumably due to COVID), so you'll have to hold on to those limp notes a little while longer. This might be why bitcoin is becoming so popular, which - as far as we know - doesn’t get soggy.
Image by Sharon McCutcheon