New Bill Aims To Thwart Counterfeiters

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As part of its campaign to thwart counterfeiters, the U.S. Mint will introduce new $20 bills next month.

The new $20s, to be unveiled Oct. 9, will include several features becoming increasingly popular in currency bills, like security threads, shifting colors, additional characters, and tiny printing to help combat the expanding ability of counterfeiters, according to Gary Darby, assistant VP of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City. Darby made a presentation to the NASCUS annual conference last week.

Introduction of the new $20s is part of an overall plan by the U.S. Treasury to bring several new denominations into circulation. Plans call for introduction of new $50 bills next year, new $100s in 2005, and possibly new $5s and $1s later on, said Darby. The $1s and $2s are not under consideration because of their unpopularity among counterfeiters.

"High-tech innovations have made counterfeiting easier than ever before," he said. Last year authorities seized almost $200- million in counterfeit currency, about two thirds of that before it was put into circulation.

Among the features of the new $20s will be new portraits of President Andrew Jackson, which will glow green under an ultraviolet light; color-shifting ink that changes from copper to green as you move the note in different directions; tiny blue-colored "Twenty USA" behind the U.S. Treasury ribbon, making it tougher to scan and large blue eagles to the left of the Jackson portrait. The new portraits will also not have the oval surrounding it, like the current bills have.

The Treasury does not plan to recall the old $20s but will issue the new $20s as the old ones come in. "It will not affect any of the currency in circulation," he said. "The new and old notes will be circulating at the same time."

The new bills are being issued under a campaign called, "Safer, Smarter & More Secure," symbolizing the efforts to make them harder to replicate.

The Treasury plans to reissue all notes every seven-to-ten years, said Darby. "If we don't do this then we'd have serious problems with the integrity of our currency," he asserted.

Darby urged credit union executives to spend some time with their tellers to educate them on the features of the new bills, and with their vendors to make sure the credit unions' machinery is compatible.

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