It doesn’t matter what ludicrous conspiracy theory is stopping you from storing your money in a bank, you’ll be happy to know that the US Department of the Treasury has an entire division dedicated to the task of trying to rebuild and recover currency should your cash-stuffed mattress get destroyed in a fire or flood.
CNN’s Great Big Story paid a visit to the US Department of the Treasury’s Mutilated Currency Division, whose sole purpose is to evaluate currency that’s been damaged or destroyed to an extent that it can’t be used as legal tender. Most of the 23,000-plus cases the technicians deal with every year come from citizens who’ve lost money in a natural disaster, like floods or wildfires, but at times it’s just someone who forgot they left a stack of Benjamins in the oven for ‘safe’ keeping.
The service is completely free, and there’s no surcharge on the roughly $40 million in reimbursements the Treasury issues to citizens every year. What is required, however, is at least 51 percent of a bill being still intact, which helps ensure the Mutilated Currency Division doesn’t issue two refunds for a single bank note, which could lead to potential scams.
So what scenario provides the biggest challenge to the technicians who are often tasked with sifting through mountains of shredded paper? It’s not currency that’s been burned, but stacks of cash that were thoroughly soaked and then left to dry, which occasionally solidify into rock-solid bricks that have to be painstakingly peeled into individual bills.