Utahns urged to 'Know Your Money' after SLC bank sees surge in counterfeit bills

Counterfeit money seized off the streets by the U.S. Secret Service in Salt Lake City

(KUTV) — Check your wallet. Some of the money inside could be bogus.

First National Bank Manager Allison Knudson says bogus bills come through the doors of her Salt Lake City branch a handful of times per year, but she decided to Get Gephardt to investigate after noticing a spike.

"We've had some counterfeit bills coming in lately, a bunch of them," she said citing several examples.

Three times in the span of a week, Knudson says she’s had to break the bad news to one of her customers – they had been ripped off.

“We have to deduct it from their deposit, so they eat the loss,” she said.

U.S. Secret Service Agent in Charge Bill Bishop says that, here in Utah, they haven't noticed any particular spike in the crime. Currently, however, there is counterfeit money circulating in Utah that has Chinese printed on the front of the note, he says.

Statistically, however, the national numbers appear to be up.

Secret Service data reveals that about $80 million taken off the streets any given year. Last year, the number nearly doubled to $144,739,076. The Secret Service says some of that spike can be attributed to attacking a backlog of counterfeit cases.

The Secret Service also arrested 1548 people least year which is an 11 percent increase over the previous year.

Bishop says that to detect most counterfeits, you don't need a microscope.

“Your best counterfeit detector is your eyes," he said.

Holding up a bill to the light to look for the magnetic strip or hologram will reveal most bad-bills, as will the relatively new technology: color changing ink. The ink will shift from green to copper.

The $20 bill is the most common counterfeit bill on the street in the U.S., however the $100 note is the most common bill forged worldwide.

The Secret Service says it is seeing a shift from a relatively small number of skilled counterfeiters using printing presses to more “unskilled” folks using home printers.

Despited the hundreds of millions of dollars of bad bills on the streets, your chances of being ripped off remain small.

“Less than 1/100 of one percent of currency in circulation is counterfeit,” Bishop said.

For tricks to determine if a bill is legitimate, or to report a bill you fear may be counterfeit, visit SecretService.gov.

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