WASHINGTON-Put away your Monopolyr money, because it is not working any more. Counterfeiting of U.S. currency has dropped markedly around the world since the introduction of the 1996-series currency, which included changing the designs and other technological updates. A joint report, issued by the Federal Reserve Board and the Treasury Department demonstrated that anti-counterfeiting measures are working. U.S. currency is a standard target because of its international popularity. "We continue to improve our currency and resist efforts by counterfeiters the world over to produce and pass counterfeit U.S. notes," Treasury Secretary John Snow said. "Only by such efforts can we guarantee that our currency will continue to remain a symbol of American strength and stability." "U.S. currency continues to hold an important place in the payment system at home and abroad and maintaining its integrity is of utmost concern to the Federal Reserve," Fed Vice Chairman Roger Ferguson commented. "A secure currency precludes the need for businesses, merchants and the public to expend significant resources and time validating the genuineness of currency. When payment systems work well, the economy functions more efficiently." The approximately one counterfeit note per 10,000 worldwide is low, according to The Use and Counterfeiting of United States Currency Abroad, Part II. Congress mandated the report in the Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996. However, advances in reprographic and computer technology will continue to necessitate innovative responses to maintain the overall security of U.S. currency, the agencies said, including currency design, enhanced cooperation with international law enforcement agencies, and additional training of foreign law enforcement, and financial officials in counterfeit detection. A new series currency will be introduced later this year to further enhance the security of U.S. banknotes. The report highlights key steps the government is taking to fight counterfeiting: * A Secret Service Web site allows law enforcement agencies and currency handlers worldwide to report instances of counterfeiting and to learn more about the characteristics of a suspect note. * The Federal Reserve Bank of New York has established overseas cash depots at foreign commercial banks, which permit overseas dollar users to obtain new U.S. currency more efficiently and increase the repatriation rate of worn and old-design U.S. currency. * U.S. enforcement agencies are working with their overseas counterparts to target cities and countries that first receive counterfeit notes in the wholesale distribution chain. The study concluded that overseas holdings of U.S currency ranged between $340 billion and $370 billion of roughly $620 billion held outside of U.S. depository institutions in the last quarter of 2002.

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