The hundred dollar bill is a highly counterfeited piece of US currency, but starting in February of next year, printing fake bills will get a little bit harder.
Back in April, treasury secretary Timothy Geithner announced a new $100 bill – one that would be considerably tougher for aspiring crooks to fake. According to a statement, the new bill, like its predecessors, employs the very latest technology to stop would-be thieves in their tracks.
For starters, the new hundred-dollar mark carries a special image of the Liberty Bell surrounded by an inkwell. No standard illustration, this imprint shifts color from copper to green as the bill is tilted against a source of light. (Ambitious Xerox armed counterfeiters, beware.)
Adjacent to the Liberty Bell in inkwell image is a numeral 100 that will also shift in color as the bill is tilted against the light. That might seem like a bit of a redundancy, but keep in mind that it’s one extra step a counterfeiter has to take to print a fake. So if you’re checking a bill, take note of both the bell and the numeral 100 in the bottom right corner of the bill’s front.
In addition to the standard center portrait of Benjamin Franklin, the right side of the bill will display a watermark image of the founding father. Hold the bill against the light, and you’ll see the faint image of Franklin formed in varying degrees of darkness and light.
The hundred-dollar bill will still feature the security thread seen for years in US currency. The security thread is woven into the paper of the bill. To check it, hold it up to the light and make sure you see a continuous line over the entire length of the bill. If not, the thread it is printed on, and the bill, is not genuine.
Next we come to the new bill’s most jaw dropping of new features: the 3-D security ribbon.
That’s right: the same state of the art technology that had you leaping out of your theater seat in awe of Avatar will now help divert peddlers of phony bills. The 3-D ribbon will rest on the front of the bill.
You won’t need to carry a pair of those clunky, Star Trek convention goggles to spot a bogus bill. Tilt the bill just a bit, and images of bells and digits will come into relief. Officials say you’ll know if the bill is a fake within seconds.
The rear of the bill bears a stunning image of Independence Hall, the famous landmark wherein both the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution were authored. The clock on the hall reads 4:10, with a clock face incorrectly labeled “IV.” (The real Independence Hall has a Roman numeral four written, “IIII.”
As stunning as the new bills may be, don’t get too used to them. According to Treasury officials, the average circulation life of a C-note is approximately five years. After that, the typical bill is replaced due to wear and tear.
Hanging onto any mangled bills? Head on down to your local bank. Commercial banks will exchange overly worn or damaged currency for circulation worthy bills, provided that at least one half of the original bill is present.
For more information about upcoming changes to the $100 bill, check out the video below.
Published or updated April 4, 2013.