Important Facts About U.S. Currency
And how to recognize counterfeit bills
Counterfeit money has been around since bills were first exchanged for payment. And from a crook’s perspective, what better way to line the proverbial pocket? But as a consumer, it is important to be aware of counterfeit money and recognize the difference between real and fake bills. One way is to familiarize yourself with the characteristics of the current bills in circulation.
Examining the different types of “notes” issued
The term “note” is the formal name for a bill, no matter the denomination or amount. Currently, more than $1.43 trillion of U.S. notes is in circulation. And several notes have more than one design, making things a bit more complicated.
U.S.Currency.gov explains how to distinguish their individual features:
First issued in 1963, it features a portrait watermark of President Washington. Its design has remained unchanged since its creation.
Introduced in 1976, it depicts John Trumbull’s painting of “The Signing of the Declaration of Independence.”
The revised design was introduced in 2008 and has more subtle shades of light purple and gray. A portrait watermark of President Lincoln can be viewed from both sides of the note.
The revised design was introduced in 2006 and has more subtle background shades of orange, yellow, and red. A portrait watermark of Alexander Hamilton can be viewed from both sides of the note.
The revised design was introduced in 2003 and has more subtle background shades of green and peach. A portrait watermark of President Jackson can be viewed from both sides of the note.
The revised design was introduced in 2004 and has more subtle background shades of blue and red. A portrait watermark of President Grant can be viewed from both sides of the note.
The revised design was introduced in 2013 and has a 3-D security ribbon and color-shifting bell in the inkwell. A portrait watermark of Benjamin Franklin can be viewed from both sides of the note.
What to do when you suspect a counterfeit note
Each note has its own features to prevent counterfeiting bills and ensure the integrity of the bills exchanged through the U.S. currency system. If you suspect receiving a suspicious note, you can contact your local Secret Service Field Office or the police department.
The timeline of U.S. Currency:
- 1690 – Colonial Notes
- 1739 – Franklin’s Colonial Notes
- 1775 – Continental Currency
- 1776 – First $2 Notes
- 1861 – First $10 Notes
- 1862 – U.S. Notes
- 1863 – National Banking System Created
- 1865 – Secret Service established to Deter Counterfeiting
- 1869 – Centralized Printing of Currency (Bureau of Engraving and Printing)
- 1889 – Names Added to Portraits
- 1913 – Federal Reserve Act (Central Bank in U.S. created)
- 1914 – First $10 Notes
- 1918 – Large Denomination Notes Created
- 1929 – Standardization of Design
- 1957 – “In God We Trust” Added
- 1969 – End of Large Denomination Notes
- 1971 – End of United States Notes
- 1976 – Reintroduction of $2 Notes
- 1990 – Security Thread and Microprinting Added
- 1996 – Currency Redesign Launched
- 2003 – Redesigned $20 Note
- 2004 – Redesigned $50 Note
- 2006 – Redesigned $10 Note
- 2008 – Redesigned $5 Note
- 2013 – Redesigned $100 Note
The notes we carry, even our loose change, reflect our history as a nation, and are a way to commemorate the significant people and events of our past. Soon, the Treasury Department will create new designs for the $20, $10, and $5 notes.
$20 Note – Featuring Harriet Tubman
$10 Note – Featuring the Women’s Suffrage Movement
$5 Note – Featuring Martin Luther King, Marian Anderson, and Eleanor Roosevelt.