Financial Update (Second Quarter 2003)


   Business Method


   Check Truncation

   2002 Annual

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   Business Checking
   Freedom Act

   The Fed and 9/11

   Personal Financial


   Did You Know?

   Data Bank

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Did You Know?

Report Outlines New Efforts to Combat Counterfeiting Abroad

Procedures to combat international counterfeiting of U.S. currency are working, according to a report issued to Congress in March by the Federal Reserve Board and the U.S. Treasury Department.

The report, The Use and Counterfeiting of United States Currency Abroad, Part 2, was mandated by Congress under the Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996. The report details how the combined efforts of the Treasury, the U.S. Secret Service and the Federal Reserve have helped cut back on the incidence of international counterfeiting, which has declined markedly since the introduction of 1996-series currency. The improved designs of this series have been more difficult for counterfeiters to copy (see the diagram).

Currency Features

According to the report, the incidence of counterfeiting is low, with approximately one counterfeit note per 10,000 notes worldwide. The U.S. Secret Service works closely with overseas banks and law enforcement agencies to help suppress counterfeiting activities.

The report highlights important steps the U.S. government is taking to combat global counterfeiting:

  • A Secret Service Web site allows law enforcement agencies and currency handlers worldwide to report instances of counterfeiting and to learn more about the characteristics of a suspect note.
  • The Federal Reserve Bank of New York has established cash depots at foreign commercial banks. These depots make it easier for overseas users to obtain new U.S. currency and repatriate worn and old-design U.S. currency.
  • U.S. enforcement agencies are working with their overseas counterparts to target cities and countries that first receive counterfeit notes in the wholesale distribution chain

The study concludes that overseas holdings of U.S. currency ranged between $340 billion and $370 billion out of the roughly $620 billion in U.S. currency held outside of U.S. depository institutions in the last quarter of 2002.

The joint report came just months before a new currency design was unveiled by the Treasury’s Bureau of Engraving and Printing. The new currency introduces new features to thwart counterfeiters.

The new design was originally scheduled to debut in March 2003, but the unveiling was postponed because of the war with Iraq. Instead, the unveiling took place on May 13 with the introduction of the new $20 bill. However, the bill will not enter circulation until the fall.

The redesigned $50 and $100 notes will be released in 2004 and 2005, respectively.

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