Ideas being floated for currency makeover

Tuesday, June 18, 2002

WASHINGTON -- When you look at your greenbacks in the future, you might see red. Or blue, or any number of colors as the nation's money makers mull another makeover to thwart high-tech counterfeiters.

Perhaps a spot on the paper bills might even look 3-D.

Those are some of the ideas being floated as the government works on designing new bills that will be harder to knock off. It is a continuing challenge in a world where large quantities of counterfeit notes can be produced easily and quickly using increasingly sophisticated computer technology.

New bills are expected to begin debuting in mid- to late 2003. A final design, which Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill must approve, is not expected to be publicly released until next year.

The last currency makeover started in 1996 and was the biggest change in the dollar's design in 67 years, with a number of high-tech features added.

The most noticeable change, however, was that portraits were made bigger and moved slightly off center. As a result, a number of nicknames cropped up for the notes, including Monopoly Money.

'Subtle color'

One change being considered now is the addition of "subtle color" to the bills, says the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, which makes the nation's paper money. The goal would be to use color in such a way that would make it harder to make bogus bills.

Green and black ink is now used on neutral-colored paper. Experts say color could be added in the neutral areas, in other specific spots or be used to tint the entire note. Colors could vary by denomination.

The government is not offering details. But the bureau says that whatever changes are made, "the public can rest assured that notes will maintain their distinct American look and feel."

The size of the notes will not change and the same faces will appear on the same bills.

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