The New US Currency - Can You Spot A Fake?

Is that new US paper currency your passing really

You probably don't give a lot of thought to those dollar bills you spend everyday.

You work, you cash your check and you get some of those bills. You go to the store, you give them to someone and then they are gone!

U.S. started making paper money in 1861. They were called bank notes and they were printed on a cotton/linen paper. They were printed using green ink and had a fine-line design. Things changed in 1928 when each different denomination came with easily recognizable portraits and illustrations. The next major changes occurred in

1990 when the currency was enhanced with two new features. Although the appearance of the bills was the same, there was a security thread embedded that runs vertically through the note and through the microprinting around the border of the portrait.

Recently the look of U.S. currency changed again. With all the high tech copying tools available to the public, conterfeiting was becoming easier and easier. To counter act that the Treasury Department has come up with some high tech additions to its new bills! The bills were given enlarged portraits to make them easier to identify. There is also added detail that makes it harder to duplicate. You may have noticed that the portraits are off-center. This is intentional and provides room for a watermark over to the side that reduces wear and tear on the portrait. The watermark is based on what what the portrait is on the bill(i.e. a $5 bill will have a portrait of Lincoln, and also a watermark of Lincoln close to the border.) The watermark is visible from both sides when you hold up the bill. There is a security thread embedded vertically in different locations that indicate the note's denomination. There are fine lines that are printed behind each portrait and they are very difficult to replicate. These new bills also have microprinting that is very small and hard to replicate because of its size. The microprinting is found in different areas on different denominations of bills. For instance, on the $5.00 bill the micrprinting consists of the words "FIVE DOLLARS" in the side borders on the front of the note, while, "The United States of America" appears along the lower edge ornamentation of the portraits oval frame. On the $10 dollar bill the microprinting can be found on the front of the note - the word "TEN" being repeated in the numeral found in the lower left-hand corner. Also, the words "The Untied States of America" are repeated just above Hamilton's name along the lower edge of the portraits frame. On most denominations there is what the treasury calls, "color-shifting ink." This ink is used on the green number in the lower right corner. On the front of the bill it appears black, when it is viewed at an angle. This is not a feature found on the $5 bill. On the back of the new bills their is a large denomination numeral that makes it easier to read. The bills all contain a universal seal that represents the entire Federal Reserve System. The letter and number beneath the left serial number identifies the issuing Federal Reserve Bank. There are eleven numbers and letters that appear twice on the front of each note.

The redesigned $100 bill was the first note of the new series to enter into circulation. This bill has an updated portrait of Benjamin Franklin with an image of Independence Hall of the back. These bills went into circulation in 1996. The new

$100 bills were followed in 1997 by the new $50 bills. They have an enlarged picture of Ulysses S. Grant on front and an image of the U.S. Capitol building on the back. 1998 saw the release of the redesigned $20 bill. Andrew Jackson's portrait is on the front and the north side of the White House replaces the view of the south lawn on the back of the note. In the middle of the year 2000 came the $10 bill with its portrait of Alexander Hamilton on the front and the Treasury Department on the back. Also, in mid 2000 came the new $5 note. Abraham Lincoln's picture is on the front and an updated illustration of the Lincoln Memorial is on the back. In the year 2000

we have also seen another major addition - the new dollar coin. This coin features a picture of Sacagawea, the Shoshone Indian woman who, with her infant son, guided Lewis and Clark to the west. There is an American eagle on the reverse side. This coin is gold in color and has a smooth edge. It does not replace the Susan B. Anthony dollar or the paper $1 bill. Those will still be in circulation.

A recap of some of the new features will be a key in spotting conterfeits. If you are suspicious you want to check for the following items:



The color-shifting ink - With the exception of the new $5 bills you can tilt the bill back and forth to see the color on the number on the lower right corner. It should change from a distinct green to black, and back again.

The watermark - If you hold the bill up to a light source to see the watermark, look at the blank space to the right of the portrait. The watermark is actually in the paper and not printed on it, so it can also be seen from the reverse side.

The security thread - look for the thin strip that runs from top to bottom. Surprisingly it is a strip of plastic that is actually imbedded, not printed on the paper. You can only see this when you hold the bill up to a light source. The security thread will glow a specific color, depending on the denomination, when held under an ultraviolet light.

The fine line printing patterns - When checking the fine lines behind the portrait on the front of the bill and behind the picture of the building on the back, take note that the lines are clear - not uneven or somposed of dots.

The microprinting - This needs to be done under a magnifier so you can see the finely printed words.

Some tips issued by the U.S. Treasury on what to do if you do suspect a conterfeit note:

Do not put yourself in danger

Do not return the note to the person who passed it to you.

Try to delay the passer by some excuse, if possible, without risking harm.

Try to observe and record the passer's appearance and that of any companions.

Note the license plate number and the make of the passer's car.

Call the police or the Secret Service.

Write your initials and the date on an unprinted portion of the suspect bill.

Do not handle the note more than necessary.

Put the note in a protective envelope.

Give the bill only to a properly identified police officer or a representative of the U.S.Secret Service.

Remember - safety first! Don't take chances, just be aware.

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