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Thread: Torn $20 bill

  1. #1

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    Torn $20 bill

    I have a $20 bill which is torn and I have about 70% of the bill which is in good condition. Meaning its obvious it’s a $20 bill, Jackson’s face is all there, just the left 30% is missing.

    I called the department of Engraving and Printing which handles these types of issues and according to them, my $20 bill is still valid currency.

    Here is the specific guidelines from the government:

    http://www.moneyfactory.gov/section.cfm/8/39

    This is the section that appies to my $20 bill:

    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.

    Even the government is stating that my bill SHOULD be exchanged through a local bank.

    My $20 bill is only missing about 30% and the rest is in perfect condition so its clearly still valid currency.

    My problem is this. I went to the bank today with a printed copy of the above regulations and the guy just shut me down as if I don’t exist. He said its against their policy to take ripped money. So I said if a bank doesn’t take this money then who the heck would?? He said its not their problem. I called their corporate office to find out what their policy was for this kind of issue and they said its up to the branch.

    I thought that currency is government property and if the law says my bill is valid money, how can they reject it? Can they really do that? The department of Engraving and Printing told me the bank should exchange this bill without any issues. The bank says no way. And when I ask for their policy in writing they refused to give it to me. I don’t even think they have a policy.

    I never thought that a bank was above the law. Apparently Washington Mutual is and that any money acceptable by government standard is not acceptable to them. Either its in mint condition or they dont consider this "currency"...

    What options do I have? Can I make a complaint or does the bank have the right to refuse a valid currency? If I cant go to a bank for these issues where am I supposed to go? A donut shop? ….they don’t even follow government policies. Is money really my own property? I thought it was the property of United states. If the money is no longer good, is it legal brun it? If not, how can they refuse me? In a way, isn't an insult to the government when a bank refuses valid currency? I asked a few poeple about this and they said if the bill is considered valid currency, the bank has no right to refuse it.

    Sorry for sounding so angry, I just had a hell of a day. Any advice is greatly appreciated.

    Last edited by alex8111; 09-14-2007 at 02:24 AM.

  2. Super Moderator Samaritan & Scholar

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    You're making the mistake of assuming that because the bank CAN accept it, that means they MUST accept it.

    Just because they CAN, does not mean they MUST. They are free to decline it if they choose. Nothing in the law says they HAVE to take every bill that is offered to them; it only specifies what they CAN accept.

  3. #3
    thelawprofessor's Avatar
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    cbg has it right - a bank is a private institution, not a governmental institution. You will need to figure out who can take it and replace it.
    Forum posts are not legal advice, are for educational purposes only & are not substitutes for proper consultation with legal counsel.

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