WASHINGTON (3/14/08)--The first new five-dollar bill was issued by the Federal Reserve Thursday, a greenback that continued to feature a portrait of the 16th President while incorporating enhanced security features to foil counterfeiting operations. The new currency received quite a symbolic launch here in Washington at President Lincoln's Cottage at the Soldiers' Home, a historic site used by the former president as a White House summer retreat. Officials from the Fed, U.S. Treasury, Bureau of Engraving and Printing and U.S. Secret Service ushered the new $5 bill into circulation at the Lincoln Cottage gift shop. A release accompanying the event noted that Lincoln had established the Secret Service the same evening he was assassinated and made safeguarding the nation's currency from counterfeiters the agency's primary mission. "The redesigned five-dollar bill's enhanced security features help ensure we stay ahead of counterfeiters and protect your hard-earned money," Michael Lambert, assistant director of the Fed’s division of reserve bank operations and payment systems, said. “It only takes a few seconds to check the new $5 bill to make sure it's genuine. If you know how to check its security features, you can easily be confident it's real,” he added. If cash handlers hold the bill to the light, they can check for these features:
* Two watermarks: A large number "5" watermark is located in a blank space to the right of the portrait replacing the previous watermark portrait of President Lincoln found on the older-design $5 bills. A second watermark -- a column of three smaller “5”s -- has been added to the new $5 bill design and is positioned to the left of the portrait; and * A security thread that runs vertically and is now located to the right of the portrait on the redesigned $5 bill. The letters "USA" followed by the number "5" in an alternating pattern are visible along the thread from both sides of the bill. The thread glows blue when held under ultraviolet light.
According to the Fed, in 2007 at total of $61.4 million in counterfeit money was passed in the United States. "Everyone who uses U.S. currency is on the front line of defense against counterfeiters," said Michael Merritt, Deputy Assistant Director, U.S. Secret Service. "The best way to protect yourself is to learn the security features. It’s simple, it’s quick, and it can save you from accepting a fake."