Dirty Work Can Pay Off When Your Cash Gets Trashed
After months of waiting, Wayne Klinkel got his $500 check from the U.S. Treasury — and he earned every penny of it.
Last December, Klinkel and his wife took a road trip from their Montana home to visit their daughter in Colorado. They loaded up the car with their 12-year-old golden retriever, Sundance, along with a crisp stack of five $100 bills to fund the journey. But while the Klinkels stopped at a restaurant to grab a quick bite along the way, Sundance was left unattended in the car, where he savored his own rich serving of dough.
This is why you buy traveler’s checks.
Sundance devoured nearly the entire wad of hundreds, though he spared a $1 bill which was apparently not to his liking. Klinkel wasn’t as enthusiastic about eating the loss as Sundance was about eating the cash, so he did what any frugal consumer with a strong enough stomach would do. He invested in some good rubber gloves.
For the rest of the trip, Klinkel was Sundance’s constant companion. Every time nature called, Klinkel stalked with gloved hands, waiting for the omnivorous animal to make him whole.
Klinkel recovered several pieces, but not all of them. Months later, the Colorado snow would melt, and Klinkel’s daughter would find a few piles that her father managed to miss.
From there, all it took to restore Klinkel’s fortune was a little rinsing, a lot of tape and some expert help from the Bureau of Engraving and Printing.
Like a Phoenix From the Ashes
When you lose your cash completely, you’re usually out of luck. But if you somehow manage to hang onto at least half of a bill — or you can prove that the rest of the bill was destroyed — the U.S. Treasury’s Bureau of Engraving and Printing may be able to reimburse you for the full face value.
It’s a job that keeps the bureau’s Office of Financial Management busy. Each year, the office processes approximately 30,000 claims for mutilated currency reimbursement and puts tens of millions back into people’s pockets.
Some of the bills they authenticate are brittle or petrified from years of underground burial. Others are rotten from water damage. Still more are burned, torn, defaced with chemicals or feasted upon by insects, rodents or adorable golden retrievers.
Stake Your Claim
The Bureau of Engraving and Printing does not reimburse claims for bills that are clearly more than 50% intact and are merely worn, torn, defaced or soiled. Those bills can be exchanged at any bank.
But when you have cash confetti or bills so damaged they’re unspendable, you can file a claim by mailing what’s left to the bureau along with the estimated value of the currency and an explanation of what happened to it.
Just don’t expect to spend your reimbursement check anytime soon. Based on the extent of the damage, the treasury warns it could take between six months and two years to receive a final determination on a claim. It also recommends that damaged bills be sent via registered mail with return receipt requested, and that claimants consider purchasing shipping insurance.
And for you serious penny pinchers, don’t send coins. U.S. coins that are bent, broken, corroded or melted together can be submitted for reimbursement through the U.S. Mint.
Presumably due to Klinkel’s meticulous reconstruction of his ill-fated Benjamins, he received his reimbursement check just five months after submitting his claim.
“It all comes out in the end,” Klinkel told the Independent Record. “It was great to get the check after all the crap I went through.”
Have you ever submitted a claim for mutilated currency reimbursement? Tell us what happened in the comments section below.