Learn how to spot and avoid counterfeit money

Learn how to avoid counterfeit money.At a time when even a child's lemonade stand or the family yard sale isn't safe from thieves trying to pass along fake cash, the federal government is offering a new video that shows how to spot counterfeit money.

"When a business or consumer accepts a counterfeit note, they are the ones who end up losing the money. It is important for the public to be educated about what security features to look for on the new $100 note. By knowing those features, businesses and consumers can be confident they are accepting a genuine note," Kenneth T. Jenkins, U.S. Secret Service criminal investigations special agent in charge, said in a statement.

On the video released Aug. 18, Secret Service agent Kelley Harris shows how to look for the security features on a $100 bill and some of the ways counterfeiters try to dupe consumers and businesses. The video is tied to the release of the redesigned $100 bill to make its debut Feb. 10, 2011. Among the security features for the new Ben Franklin is a color-shifting Liberty Bell within an inkwell as well as a 3-D blue strip across the bill to one side of Franklin's portrait.

Thanks to digital technology including scanners and cameras, it's easier than ever to make funny money, says Harris. But what they can't copy are the security features like micro printing and raised letters. A portrait watermark, a color-shifting "100" and a security thread that glows under UV light are also among the security features. Those counterfeit-detecting pens you see store cashiers use react with starch in photocopied money, but there are ways to get around those pens.

If you find yourself with a counterfeit bill, Harris says keep yourself safe and immediately alert the local Secret Service office and police. Try to remember what the person looked like and write down the license plate number if possible. If you already accepted the fake cash, keep it stored away from real currency and turn it over to law enforcement authorities.

The U.S. Treasury says to write your initials and the date on the bill's white border and place it in a plastic bag or envelop to protect it -- and any evidence on it -- from handling or damage.
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