WASHINGTON-The Department of the Treasury's Bureau of Engraving and Printing (Bureau) and the Federal Reserve Board recently announced plans to release new currency featuring updated anti-counterfeiting measures. To maintain security, the government will change the design of the currency every seven to 10 years. The new design, referred to as NexGen, could begin circulation as early as fall 2003 and will affect the $100, $50, and $20 bills; the $20s will be the first out. The NexGens will remain the same size and use similar portraits and historical images but also introduce subtle background colors, watermarks similar to the portrait and visible when held up to a light, enhanced security threads that glow under ultraviolet light, microprinting, and color-shifting ink that changes color when the note is tilted. While color is not a security feature, it helps add additional features that could deter counterfeit attempts and will help consumers identify the different denominations. Appropriate authorities will aid certain industries, such as financial services, in familiarizing themselves with the new features. According to the U.S. Secret Service, $47.5 million in counterfeit money entered into circulation in fiscal year 2001. Of this amount, 39% was computer generated, compared with only 0.5% in 1995. The redesign of $10 and $5 bills is being considered but $2s and $1s are out of the question. Release of NexGen notes will have no effect on money already in circulation. The last redesign of U.S. currency took place in 1996.

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