Is It Illegal To Write On Money?

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We've seen many things written on money before - from phone numbers to advertisements - but may haven't given a fuss about it, unless the markings are already big enough to render the bill useless to some extent. Furthermore, some of us may probably be guilty for writing something on that one-dollar bill or other bills at that. But as frequent as we may have been seeing many sorts of things being scribbled on dollar notes, we may sometimes wonder if it's alright. After all, many of us have yet to hear someone being hauled off to jail for doing it.

Writing on Money - Illegal or Not?

Right this moment, do you think that it's illegal to write on money?

  • Yes, it's illegal
  • Nothing wrong with it
  • I'm not so sure
See results without voting


Moving on, common sense dictates that something is not right with the 20-dollar bill below.

How about this 100-dollar bill?

Looking back at the photos above, our gut-feeling would tell us that the dollar notes above (should they be real) will have a greater chance of not being accepted by anyone. As such, no one in his or her right mind would deface money to that extent.


Now, take a look at the dollar notes below.

This five-dollar bill with a scribbled phone number may have been an appropriate tip (just an assumption, of course) for that gorgeous waitress or that hunky bartender you've been setting your eyes on for a while already. Do you think that it would be illegal to mark a note this way?

Moving on further, the one-dollar bill below apparently had been scribbled with a quick list of some grocery items. Perhaps the guy or gal couldn't find any piece of paper to write his or his quick list onto. Would you think that the great old George wouldn't mind?

2nd Poll on Writing on Money - Illegal or Not?

Do you think that writing something like the ones shown on the five-dollar and one-dollar notes above is illegal?

  • Yes, it's illegal
  • No, it's perfectly alright
  • Umm, still not yet sure
See results without voting

Going back to the question, "Is it illegal to write on money?"

Typically, the first thing that almost everyone does is to ask if there is any law that deems it illegal to write on money. Scouring around for some information about this led me to a United States federal statute (Title 18, Section 333 of the United States Code) that explicitly states:

"......Whoever mutilates, cuts, defaces, disfigures, or perforates, or unites or cements together, or does any other thing to any bank bill, draft, note, or other evidence of debt issued by any national banking association, or Federal Reserve bank, or the Federal Reserve System, with intent to render such bank bill, draft, note, or other evidence of debt unfit to be reissued, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than six months, or both....."

Under the same statute, the United States Secret Service is tasked to enforce such law and all other issues pertaining to currency defacement, although I'm under the opinion that those federal agents in their sleek, black suits have some more important things to do other than going after dollar note-scribblers.


What do you think now? Is it illegal to write on money or not?

Please share what you think on the comments section.

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