Is it illegal to deface 2 dollar bills or other currency?

Is it illegal to deface 2 dollar bills or other currency?


Ever marked up a piece of currency? Maybe you had to quickly jot down a phone number or a grocery list. Or maybe you accidentally tore your bill, and couldn’t get it back together neatly. Are you now scared you might get arrested?? If the answer is yes, don’t panic. I’m John, director of The Two Dollar Bill Documentary, back again with another video where I answer your questions about the $2 bill, although this video applies to the $2 bill as well other denominations. Remember, if you submit a question to my Community page, and I make a new video answering it, I’ll send you a crisp new $2 bill – with no writing on it. For this video, YouTuber ConnorToby gets a $2 bill for asking, “What repercussions may one face if they were to destroy and/or vandalize a $2 bill?” Well, destroy and vandalize are two very harsh words, so let’s start with simply marking up a bill. I first met with Bill Gillers, a Treasury employee who worked with the Bureau of Engraving and Printing for nearly twenty years When I was at the Bureau, we were instructed to tell people that it is illegal to deface U.S. currency. But that’s not really the law. I got the real scoop from Ben Cohen, the Ben from Ben & Jerry’s ice cream. He’s the founder of the Stamp Stampede, a movement aimed to eliminate money from politics, by encouraging people to stamp his messages onto paper currency, either manually, or by inserting it into the Amend-O-Matic stamp machine. This is my concept, then there was a guy in California who got it to actually work. You got a good bill to put through? You got a nice $2 bill to put through here? We’re gonna use a $2 bill because people always look at $2 bills, and it will be more effective. This is the Tower of Corrupted Power. That’s Money Mouth. He’s trying to talk with money. No, it’s not illegal. If you read the actual regulations, they state that you can’t cut the money, you can’t punch holes in it, you can’t make it so that it’s no longer obviously money or change the denomination. and you can’t advertise your business on it but what we’re putting on money is free speech. This is not defacing. This is decorating. This is beautifying. I doubt that the FBI would sweep you up into a sting and you wouldn’t be prosecuted, but we certainly didn’t encourage people to alter the appearance of U.S. currency, and if you write on it, you are altering the appearance, obviously. But that’s not enough to get you in any real trouble, otherwise fans and alumni of Clemson University would get busted every year, when they stamp orange tiger paws on $2 bills to announce their presence at road football games. Or those who use WheresGeorge.com to track $1 AND $2 bills, who could be getting arrested nearly every day. No, you can mark up a bill, but Ben Cohen was right. According to Department of the Treasury’s Official Regulations, Whoever mutilates, cuts, disfigures, perforates, unites or cements together, or does any other thing to any bank bill… etcetera etcetera, with intent to render such items unfit to be reisued, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than six months, or both. That’s a pretty hefty penalty, but again the key is whether or not your intent was to render the bill as unfit to be reissued. Either way though, I wouldn’t worry about getting caught. What I would imagine is, with all the crime that is out there, this is penny ante stuff. And the United States has bigger fish to fry than to come after you for covering up George’s face with the face of your dog or something like that. Translation? Go ahead and mark up your currency if you see fit. But “destroy or vandalize” your $2 bills – or other denominations for that matter – at your own risk. But look, I don’t know why anybody would intentionally vandalize their currency anyway. If you’re having those thoughts, just send your money to me – I will take good care of it for you. Thanks again for watching. Be sure to subscribe to my channel and/or check out some other great $2 bill content which is being shown right next to me.

44 Comments

  • gracenaomirowe

    June 20, 2019

    First comment!!!!
    Yay

    Reply
  • Adrian HF

    June 20, 2019

    Second comment! Hurrah!

    Reply
  • Jones

    June 20, 2019

    Spoiler

    Yea I think it’s illegal to destroy legal tender u need to pay a fine of a 30 bucks or?

    Reply
  • ABK TV

    June 20, 2019

    Oh boy! 50s left

    Reply
  • Silver Honda

    June 20, 2019

    I used my two dollar bill as toilet paper 🧻.

    Reply
  • Larry Hagemann

    June 20, 2019

    Decoration? Sad to think that this character made a business out of rubber stamps to exercise their "rights" of free speech by "decorating" any currency,. I wonder how other countries (EU for example) handle this kind of decorating. Maybe this hints that keeping a stash of virgin bills might make them of interest downstream when the world is polluted with cartoonish currency. Hell, keep a stash anyway, in addition to spending them at the local McDonalds (which always throws the young counter-clerks into a tizzy). They thought my Kennedy 50 cent piece was a dollar coin last week.

    Reply
  • Nicholas Cage

    June 20, 2019

    Thanks for the video. Now I can continue using my $100 dollar bills as toilet paper

    Reply
  • Disasterpiece5150

    June 20, 2019

    I’ve been struggling with the idea of money for a few years, and I’ve been able to conclude that the monetary systems of this world will not cease until they have destroyed every human being. That’s unless we can reveal money for what it really is: paper.

    Money was originally a commodity, meaning it had value in itself (gold, silver, shells, etc. ), but as travel and bartering progressed, paper money was commissioned as a representative money. This money gained its value from the commodity it represented. Therefore, this paper money became a symbol for value. If you are not familiar with linguistics or semiotics, it is important to know that a symbol can be attached to several different connotations, which can compromise human beings’ perspectives, motivations, and behavior depending on how they communicate with this symbol or how the symbol is communicated to them.

    In 1971, Richard Nixon, through several economic measures, revealed that US currency was in fact fiat currency, meaning it was not backed by a commodity. For years, Americans were lead to believe that the dollar was backed by gold, meaning money had real value (although I never really understood why shiny rocks held so much value either. I suppose all paths lead back to the main economic tool of profit, scarcity). No Gold Standard meant no real value, leaving us with bank vaults, wallets, and mattresses full of paper.

    So if the US dollar, along with most world currencies, didn’t have any value then what’s the point? First, let’s remember that paper money is a symbol, a symbol which originally had the connotation of “commodity” attached to it, but like all symbols, it can have several connotations attached to it. With the paper dollar’s original connotation stripped away, we are left with the predicament of the symbol: the symbol had been compromised, so with no real commodity value, money has become a tool used to manipulate human perspective, motivation, and behavior.

    It’s not real.

    The most powerful people in this world aren’t rich because they have money; it’s because they have the power to control money, and with this power, they use money as a tool to control human energy for their own benefit. Money merely shadows the currents of human energy, but that energy is there regardless of money. Humans need to wake up and realize that every creation, good or bad, has been done with human hands, and we can continue to progress, innovate, and improve the quality of the human existence with our energy, independent from the compromised and corrupted symbol systems of money.

    “But we need money; how will thing’s get done?”

    To those asking this question, I pose you this counter question: What really needs to “get done”, and what is money’s role in this?

    So what does need to get done. My answer: end the wars, stop poverty, save the environment, cure diseases, end racism, end classism, end sexism, educate our children, find clean energy, stop crime, end the prison industrial system, stop (real) drug abuse, etc.

    When I look at this list of problems, I realize that all paths lead back to money. Money compromises the human existence. Money feels no human emotion. It forces us to fend for ourselves, turning us against one another. It feels no love. It feels no pain, fear, or hate, but it creates it. “Tough” business decisions may lead to a loss of jobs, foreclosed homes, or even a war, but business, markets, and money have no conscience towards the domino effect of anguish that they push into motion.

    So, here’s my call to action: WRITE ON MONEY. Use pens, Sharpees, paint, whatever. Send it into circulation. Be creative, funny, political, enlightening, optimistic, informative, but most importantly help those who communicate with it realize that it’s only paper. Once that idea is made clear, we can begin taking exponentially faster steps towards a more relishable human existence.

    Please Submit your bills to the blog for posting, and make sure to write the website on the back of your bills to direct others on how this project works. Or start your own write on money campaign. Either way, write on money!

    Reply
  • Dan Pieniak

    June 20, 2019

    My understanding is when those marked bills go back to the bank, they are sent to the treasury to be destroyed. I very seldom see any marks bills now in circulation. Have not seen a "Where's George" in quite awhile. Plus where are all those Clemson $2 bills?

    Reply
  • Sudeep Patel

    June 20, 2019

    Hahaha I will take Care of your money very nice line

    Reply
  • Cheddar Drinks Water

    June 20, 2019

    i write on them to track them and see if i get them back

    Reply
  • Cheddar Drinks Water

    June 20, 2019

    dang it forgot to turn adblocker off

    Reply
  • Cheddar Drinks Water

    June 20, 2019

    i was actually at ben and jerrys while this was premiering

    Reply
  • Cheddar Drinks Water

    June 20, 2019

    I have accidentally ripped a bill?

    Reply
  • Mary M Bacsain

    June 20, 2019

    I have a question about the $2 Dollar Bill. Was there a time when they stopped making the $2 Dollar Bill and what year was that?

    Reply
  • PJ The Man

    June 20, 2019

    Can you find a two dollar bill at any foreign country

    Reply
  • Damantio Works

    June 20, 2019

    Do 2 dollar bills have as much germs&drug traces compared to other denominations?

    Reply
  • JROCK 5 SD

    June 20, 2019

    What if 2 dollar bills are actually rare like people thought they were?

    Reply
  • lawnmowermanTX

    June 20, 2019

    I use two dollar bills to buy stuff, in fact the 1928 two dollar bills had its corners ripped to avoid confusion of other denominations. A couple of weeks ago, Burger King inside Walmart in Brownwood,TX “checked” the two’s I used with counterfeit markers! Even the manager wasn’t sure they were real! Oh shout out to Members Trust Federal Credit Union of Stephenville,TX for having some two dollar bills. 1st Convenience Bank Of Stephenville, TX for having $2.00 as well.

    Reply
  • The Kodster

    June 20, 2019

    Can you pay with $2 bills at a self-checkout like at Walmart?

    Reply
  • Mike Y

    June 20, 2019

    What's your favorite $2 bill on your collection?

    Reply
  • Glen O'Canna

    June 20, 2019

    if they still make 2 dollar bills today how come we donuts see them

    Reply
  • Danny Greene

    June 21, 2019

    What is the most valuable two dollar bill?

    Reply
  • Keywell Coins

    June 21, 2019

    I have the "Donald Trump lives here" stamp. Supposed to be stamped on the $20 because of White House, but I stamp on any bill $5 and up to $100! People always get laugh or are confused here they see the $100 stamped with that!

    Reply
  • Gokunova888 ROBLOX

    June 21, 2019

    YOU BROKE THE LAW
    just kidding

    Reply
  • Caden Hembree

    June 25, 2019

    i have a 1917 2 dollar bill

    Reply
  • jronrys

    June 27, 2019

    great video, did not know. thanks.

    Reply
  • Hammy The Syrian Hamster

    June 30, 2019

    what is your oldest $2 bill?

    Reply
  • Khalid Ch

    July 6, 2019

    تحياتي لدي اكثر من ٦٠٠ دولار فئة ٢ دولار انا أعلم أنها صالحة وكم من التعامل بها في كل دول العالم ولا يزال توجد طبعات جديدة منها ولا يوجد أي إشكال ولحد الان… كذلك ارجو وجود بعض التعليقات بالعربية….. havi a good day

    Reply
  • 1980udu what

    July 22, 2019

    What happens if you Need a 2$bill

    Reply
  • Adam

    July 28, 2019

    Can get $2 bills at a credit union since they are not a bank

    Reply
  • Boy Power and girl power

    August 24, 2019

    YES it’s right.
    Uhh nevermind it’s wrong.

    Reply
  • RppRussell

    September 2, 2019

    I had a friend who owns a business & he was thinking of writing a message on the borders of all the bills he has for "free advertisements". I'm wondering if he'll be in legal trouble for doing that. (He even included the name of the website and/or phone numbers of his company.)

    Reply
  • Larry Hagemann

    September 10, 2019

    It's hard to imagine that anyone would want to mark up such a pretty two-dollar bill. But, then again, people
    deface many things in life in the interest of "art"! An individual choice, but I won't accept a funked-up $2 bill.
    Just a personal preference.

    Reply
  • J Tanashi

    September 20, 2019

    People that do this should go to jail. I hate the ones that turn silver or gold coins into rings for jewelry.

    Reply
  • jrlauer69

    September 24, 2019

    As a collector, I think defacing currency should be illegal.

    Reply
  • TheMastergabe

    September 27, 2019

    No we won't prosecute you for vandalizing your cash. But we could😉

    Reply
  • Caleb McCourry

    September 28, 2019

    I’ve got a 2 that has the number 32 wrote on it with pen is that illegal and I’m not the one who wrote it

    Reply
  • Coin Roll Hunting and Basketball

    September 28, 2019

    But if you have a kind of Bill as long as you have 25% of the bill then you can return it and get a new one

    Reply
  • Rocky O,daniel

    October 2, 2019

    Why do many people keep them instead of buying them

    Reply
  • Jinger Partin

    October 9, 2019

    The thumbnail physically hurts

    Edit: wait no it all hurts help me

    Reply
  • Vis Ram

    October 25, 2019

    Can you please send me a stack of two dollar bills please

    Reply
  • Kolton _Risner

    November 3, 2019

    What happens if your two dollar billGot ripped and route and route so you would have to get a new one

    Reply
  • MarX XPham

    November 14, 2019

    Just don’t spend it lol

    Reply

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