Why Is It Illegal to Destroy Coins?


Quick Answer

The prohibition on destroying or altering coins is meant to protect coins made out of precious materials. Coins made out of precious material can be shaved around the outside or thinned out, decreasing their material value while leaving the denominational value unchanged.

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Full Answer

Federal law prohibits individuals from destroying or otherwise altering both coins and paper money. Such actions deprive the government of its precious materials while enabling criminals to compromise the value of the coin. The law is also meant to prevent forgers from using parts of legal currency in forgeries. Only a federal body like the U.S. Mint or the Federal Reserve is permitted to destroy currency that has been damaged or worn out.

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