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Call Kurtis: How Can I Get Reimbursed For Mutilated Money?

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Eight-time Emmy Award winner Kurtis Ming is CBS13's consumer...
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You’ve heard the famous excuse “my dog ate my homework. This time, a Turlock man says his dog ate his money.

We call on Kurtis Ming with what you can do when money accidentally gets mutilated.

Turns out, you can get reimbursed by the federal government.

Accidents with money happen more often than you think. They get ripped up, damaged in a fire or flood or chewed up by your dog.

Abby is your typical, curious puppy.

“For the first six months she probably thought ‘no’ was her first name because it was always ‘No Abby! No Abby!'” said Shannon Runca, Turlock resident.

Born around tax day, it’s no surprise Abby had a thing for money.

In January, Ryan Runca got $200 from his grandparents for his birthday.

“Just put it on my kitchen table, figuring it would be safe. It’s a high table,” said Ryan.

Hours later, mom Shannon discovered Abby’s crime in the living room.

“I bent over and picked it up and saw Benjamin Franklin’s eye,” said Shannon.

Two $100 bills shredded.

Ryan and Shannon were able to tape the money together but when Ryan brought it back to his bank, “The teller goes ‘This currency is unfit. We can’t accept it,'” said Ryan.

“How the heck does money end up looking like this?” Kurtis asked a Comerica Bank representative as he looked at a badly damaged bill.

“This one I would have to believe was buried in the ground,” said Cynetra Verona-Donnelly, assistant vice president and banking center manager with  Comerica Bank.

Verona-Donnelly says people come into her Comerica Bank branch with ripped up bills, some moldy, even dyed different colors.

“If it’s more than 51 percent of the bill that is there, then I can exchange it for a good bill,” said Verona-Donnelly.

Comerica Bank, Bank of America, Chase, Citibank and Wells Fargo say they’ll exchange your damaged bills if more than half is intact.

US Bank says you have to have more than two-thirds intact and the serial number and denomination must be clear.

But if it’s too damaged, then you’ll have to go to the Bureau of Engraving and Printing in Washington, D.C., to get it reissued.

Every year, the U.S. Treasury handles about 30,000 claims and redeems mutilated money valued at more than $30 million damaged by:

  • fire
  • explosives
  • water
  • chemicals
  • animals or insects

But we’ve learned the government only has 15 examiners piecing together all those bills. That means it could take up to two years to get your money.

“I called and still it still said the voicemail box full,” said Ryan.

Ryan sent his damaged bills in January and seven months later, he finally got his $200, learning a lesson about his dog, Abby.

“Keep the money far, far away from the dog,” said Ryan.

The Bureau of Engraving and Printing tells us they have precautions in place to prevent people from defrauding them, but they won’t disclose what those precautions are.

The BEP also tells us they’re so backed up, claims could take anywhere from six months to two years to process, depending on the condition of the currency.

If your bills are shredded into pieces, try not to disturb the fragments. If it was mutilated in a container, leave it that container and send everything in.

Also, be sure to send your damaged bills by registered mail, return receipt requested.

If you have mutilated coins, you can send those to the U.S. Mint in Philadelphia.

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