Money Habits that get you Jail Time

Extortion. Bribery. Counterfeiting. Most of us know these words can get us thrown in jail. But what about other financial habits? Are there other, less known financial actions that can also land us in the slammer?

Yes, according to what a recent article revealed.

…it’s surprisingly easy to adopt a dicey financial habit under the guise of “everyone does it,” “I was just trying to help” or “it seemed like a good idea at the time” only to discover later that what you’ve done is in fact, illegal.

What are those under the radar bad money habits?

1. Signing Someone Else’s Name on a Check – Signing someone else’s name on a check is generally considered forgery and would be illegal in most states…But suppose an adult child signs an elderly parent’s name because the parent is incapacitated or a parent signs a child’s name because the child is away at college. Guess what? Those signatures are still forgeries, unless a power of attorney is in effect.

Even if you sign for a loved one, the law is the law. And it’s still forgery.

2. Using Someone Else’s Identity to Obtain Credit – The use of someone else’s name and identity to obtain credit is an obvious no-no. But suppose a parent whose credit has been ruined uses a child’s name and identity to open new credit accounts. Illegal? You bet.

Confession time. My parents owned a business several decades ago and, like many small businesses, they managed their money by the seat of their pants. If you live in a smallish town and you bounce checks, pretty soon you’ll have a hard time opening a checking account. Banks talk.

Eventually, my parents could not get a checking account…anywhere. Their big idea to circumvent this problem? Open accounts in mine and my brother’s names. They managed to run a $1M business through my (unbeknownst to me) checking account for several months.

It wasn’t until a very observant teller finally told my mom, “Ma’am, you cannot run a business through a child’s checking account.” I could have been negatively affected for a long time. And I didn’t even know it. Geeez.

Then, finally, my favorite bad money habit…

6. Defacing U.S. Currency – U.S. currency isn’t designed to be run through the clothes washer, written on or masticated by pets. Yet while accidental damage to currency normally isn’t illegal, deliberate defacement is. Federal law prohibits any action that mutilates, cuts, defaces, perforates or glues together U.S. currency or otherwise renders bills unusable.

So, no, it’s probably not wise to use dollar bills as fire starter.

Read about more illegal money habits at

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