Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Counterfeit Prevention Measures in World Currency Today

Over the past few decades, the international phenomenon of counterfeiting of modern currency has slowly acquired such alarming proportions that it has turned into a serious problem for Governments the world over. In order to control this international criminal activity and protect the currencies of their respective countries, Governments around the world have been effecting changes in their currency notes from time to time.

With the advent of powerful consumer image editing software, cheap high resolution scanners, and low priced computer equipment it becomes easier and easier every year for counterfeiters to duplicate the designs and images found on modern currency. The threat of counterfeit currency is no laughing matter to the governments of the world, who have taken measures to ensure that their money is as difficult to replicate as possible. In this article we will discuss a few of the methods they have used to undermine the efforts of counterfeiters worldwide.

The United States government in the late 80s issued 20, 50 and 100-dollar denominations with a "security strip" inside the bill. The security strip made of fluorescent plastic was embedded in the bill itself. The strips run from top to bottom and can be easily read under a fluorescent light bulb. The denomination of the bill was written on the strip, to prevent counterfeiters from "upgrading" lower denominations of the bill to higher denominations by "washing" the ink from the paper and reprinting the graphics of the bill using dye sub or laser printers.

Another method that the United States government has implemented is watermarking. The latest bills that have been issued by the treasury have images embedded in the currency’s paper. You can view this watermarked image by holding up the bill to a light source. The image in the watermark should match the image of the president on the bill. The $100 bill, for example, features the likeness of Benjamin Franklin in both the standard image and the watermark.

It must be mentioned here that the counterfeit currency of some denominations is, at times, produced with those images that are actually meant for the bills of some other denominations. For instance, some counterfeit US currency in circulation internationally has $5-bills bearing the images that are actually meant for the $100-bill. Though such counterfeit bills have a very genuine look and feel, they can still be identified quite easily because it is not possible to bleach out the watermark, as is the case with the surface images. So, when the counterfeit $5-bills are held up against a source of light, they show up the image of former US President Lincoln in the watermark which is the actual image that should appear on all the bills of this denomination.

The third example of one of the latest preventive measures used internationally to control the production of counterfeit currency, is the use of special inks in printing the actual currency. Such inks help to show up different colours in the genuine currency notes when they are viewed from different angles. For instance, the same currency note that appears to be light green in colour when looked at from the left angle, seems to acquire a blackish hue instead of the earlier greenish one, when we look at it from the right angle. What makes this latest printing method extremely difficult to replicate for the counterfeiters, is the use of a special compound that they soon realize, is very hard to manufacture.

These are just a few of the new security features built into modern United States currency. Be on the lookout for even more technology to be unveiled in the next few years as the treasury keeps up with the counterfeiters in the battle to maintain the integrity of the almighty dollar.

Copyright 2006, Devon Valenta, All Rights Reserved. This article may be published on web sites or in newsletters provided this notice and the resource box is included without ammendment.

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