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Bank of the West and U.S. Secret Service help North Bay/Sonoma merchants safeguard against counterfeit currency

SONOMA, Calif., Nov. 8, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- There are more small and medium-sized cash transactions during the holidays than at any other time of the year, making November to December "prime time" for counterfeiters.

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To help merchants learn how to protect themselves against currency fraud, Bank of the West teamed up with the U.S. Secret Service to offer tips on thwarting counterfeiters.

"The best insurance against potential losses from counterfeit currency is to learn how to quickly and easily identify authentic currency," Stacey Scudder, manager of Bank of the West's Sonoma branch said during a free seminar Nov. 8.

Some of the quick tips for merchants presented by Bank of the West and the Secret Service included:

  • Hold a $20 bill up to a light source. Each $20 note contains a clear strip inscribed with "USA Twenty." The $20 bill is today's most counterfeited denomination in the U.S. The other notes –$5, $10, $50, $100 – should also show a strip with their denomination printed.
  • While holding the bill to the light, check for a watermark on the right side of the note. On the $5 note, you'll see the number "5"; on the $10, $20, $50, $100, the watermark and the portrait should match.
  • The $10, $20, $50 and $100 have their numbers printed in color-shifting ink in the lower right corner. This technology is very hard to replicate and, in genuine U.S. currency, you'll see the color shift from copper to green.
  • Counterfeit detection pens are not always accurate and may give false results. The surer way to detect counterfeits is to be familiar with the security features.
  • Think you've been passed a fake bill? Immediately notify local police. Try to remember the physical characteristics of the person who passed it and, if possible, write down their license plate and vehicle description.
  • Whatever you do, don't pass a counterfeit bill along. Counterfeiting currency or possessing it with fraudulent intent is punishable by a fine or imprisonment for up to 15 years, or both.

"We're encouraging all merchants to be aware, stay informed and know what steps to take if passed a fraudulent bill," Scudder said.  "We hosted the educational seminar to prepare business owners because we know that going into the holidays, merchants often hire temporary cashiers to handle increased volume."

About Bank of the West

Founded in 1874, $63 billion-asset Bank of the West (www.bankofthewest.com), member FDIC and equal housing lender, offers a wide range of personal, commercial, wealth management and international banking services. The bank operates more than 700 retail and commercial banking locations in 19 Western and Midwestern states. Bank of the West is a subsidiary of BNP Paribas, which has a presence in 80 countries with nearly 200,000 employees.

SOURCE Bank of the West

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