9 freaky money facts that will leave you feeling spooked

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9 freaky money facts that will leave you feeling spooked


Halloween may conjure up spooky images of ghosts, zombies and vampires, but how about money? Probably not so much.

But it turns out money can be a scary topic too. Check out these nine freaky money facts that might just make your stomach turn.

1. 94 percent of dollar bills have been contaminated by bacteria.

That's right -- you might want to whip out your bottle of hand sanitizer the next time you're handling cash. A 2002 study looked at one-dollar bills collected from a community in western Ohio and found bacteria on almost all of them. One-dollar bills are widely used and pass between many hands, so they're prone to contamination.

2. In the last 15 years, the U.S. national debt has tripled -- to $19.7 trillion.

It took 200 years for the national debt to hit $1 trillion. Since then, it's ballooned, increasing over 200 percent from $5.8 trillion in 2001 to $19.7 trillion (that's 12 zeroes) today.

3. The "metallic" odor you smell after touching coins is actually the smell of your body oils and sweat coming into contact with iron.

Have you ever held a penny or quarter in your hand and attributed the metallic odor to the coin? In actuality, it's certain oils in your skin that react when your skin comes in contact with iron, as concluded by researchers in a 2006 German study.

4. Up to 90 percent of U.S. paper money contains traces of cocaine.

Yes, you might have trace amounts of cocaine sitting in your wallet. A 2009 study looked at paper money from more than 30 cities in five countries -- the U.S., Canada, Brazil, China and Japan -- and found the highest levels of cocaine on American and Canadian money.

In case you're wondering -- the amount of cocaine found on most notes was too small to induce any kind of high.

5. A 1707 Maryland law declared that anyone convicted of counterfeiting foreign currency would be tortured and maimed.

Counterfeiting came with a steep price in the 18th century. Though pillory might sound harmless, the practice was anything but: It meant publicly punishing offenders in a wooden frame with holes to lock their head and hands in.

The pillory was generally placed in a public space, and a watching crowd would throw unpleasant objects, such as rotten vegetables, dead animals or even feces, at the offender.

And on top of this, offenders would face having their ears cut off.

6. The flu can survive on paper money bills for as long as 17 days.

Along with being a breeding ground for bacteria, paper money can harbor viruses such as the flu, according to a study reported in the Applied and Environmental Microbiology journal.

Though this may sound alarming, the good news is that touching "infected" money doesn't necessarily put you at risk for catching for flu.

7. Early humans used items such as blood and bat droppings as currency.

Before paper money and coins, humans chose some strange things to serve as money. In addition to blood and bat guano (bat droppings), the list included cows, shells and rice.

8. 60 percent of counterfeit U.S. currency is made using inkjet and laser printers.

In 2014, the Secret Service reported that nearly 60 percent of the $88.7 million in counterfeit money recovered within the U.S. was made using basic printers.

Most digital counterfeiters had created a few hundred to a few thousand dollars' worth of fake bills, though one graphic artist had printed $1.4 million worth of fake $50 and $100 bills.

9. If the federal government began repaying the U.S. national debt at a rate of one dollar per second, it would take over 470,000 years to pay off the national debt.

Now that's pretty freaky.

About the Author: Mika Bhatia is a Staff Writer for Credit Karma. She's worked in financial services and tech, and has now found the perfect union of the two at Credit Karma. When she's not busy coming up with credit-related analogies, she's most likely supporting the Warriors, enjoying a fine cup of British tea or doing yoga (goal: completing a headstand without toppling over). Follow her at @MikaBhatia!

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