LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - Veteran employees at East Texas banks are catching counterfeit bills that were unknowingly received and deposited by area businesses. One employee said the occurrences of counterfeit bills often come in seasons.
"One of the things I use the most is any time on their collars they have a grain," said Regions Bank teller Donna McKissick, a 12-year veteran, about one way she can her colleagues can quickly tell if a bill isn't real. "And if you don't feel a grain, if it's smooth, it's probably a counterfeit."
McKissick said that the occurrence of counterfeit cash comes in seasons. Apparently, the season is here in Lufkin and Angelina County.
"We got three counterfeit 20s last week," McKissick said. "We have a lot of businesses that make night deposits, and some of the bag deposits may contain counterfeit bills that are passed through local businesses."
To counter the counterfeit cash, bankers school customers on feeling the bill to know if it's fake.
"Typically nowadays, they will dye a real bill and put a new bill on top of it, so it doesn't feel as fake," the lead teller said about the $20 bill she retrieved.
Because of technology in making fake money has improved, the counterfeit pen may not detect the actual currency of a dyed bill.
"When they dye a real bill, it's still a real bill. It's still the same fabric that they make it with. The pens don't often detect that. So, typically the ink will turn brown," McKissick said.
"It's amazing the lengths some people go to to make the fake money," said her colleague Melanie Bazor. "Just imagine what they could do with that ingenuity on a real job."
But the Federal Reserve Bank has gone to great lengths to make counterfeiting federal notes or cash even more difficult. According to Joe Pavel, a Public Affairs Representative with the Federal Reserve Bank, the current version of the $20 note started circulating in 2003. The new and old versions are still in existence. As for the redesigned $100 bill, FRB began its release in 2013.
"There's a magnetic line inside that lets you know what the bill should be, and there's also a watermark on the right, and if it doesn't match the picture that's on the bill, that's probably a counterfeit," McKissick said about the new $100 bill.
Regions Bank Branch Manager Stephanie Love said they also provide education to all customers, individuals and businesses.
"We encourage people to come in and ask questions," Love added. "They can just bring in their cash to have checked, and we'll provide them with consumer education."
The counterfeit cash is not just in central East Texas. A teller at Citizens National Bank in Tyler said he came across a fake $20 bill last week while processing a customer's transaction.
For more information on how to recognize counterfeit cash, you can go to teh FRB's new money public education website http://www.newmoney.gov/ or the Secret Service's "Know Your Money" page at http://www.secretservice.gov/money_detect.shtml.