New 100-Dollar Bill: Government Combats Counterfeiters With New Benjamins

Extreme Makeover: Ben Franklin $100 Bill Edition

The recession has left many people strapped for cash, but even so, you will soon notice a new look for the $100 bill.

Ben Franklin's makeover was shown off at a ceremony this morning at the Treasury Department's appropriately-titled Cash Room. The new notes will be issued early next year, on February 10, 2011.

You can watch a video on the new bill on YouTube. Click HERE to watch.

Today's unveiling marked the first time since 1996 that the government has redesigned the $100 note, the highest-value bill printed in the U.S. It is all part of an effort to foil counterfeiters, who have used everything from new digital technology to old-fashioned printing presses in their attempt to make fake cash.

"This note incorporates the best technology available to ensure we're staying ahead of counterfeiters," Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner said today.

The note's new security features, devised over a decade of research, include a 3-D security ribbon on the front which has images of bells and 100s that move and change as a person tilts the bill. The note also has a feature dubbed "The Bell in the Inkwell," an image of the Liberty Bell that changes color from copper to green when the bill is tilted, making it look as if the bell is appearing and disappearing in an inkwell next to Franklin's portrait.

"A sound currency is the bedrock of a sound economy," Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke said at today's unveiling. "Therefore, the United States government must stay ahead of counterfeiters and protect the integrity of our currency."

In fact, outside the United States, no note is more widely counterfeited or more widely circulated than the $100 bill.

Some other changes to the C-note include a new look for Independence Hall, with the rear of the building now pictured on the bill, rather than the front. Three security features from the old design will be retained: a watermark of Ben Franklin's face, a security thread, and a color-shifting numeral 100. The bill will also continue to highlight symbols of American freedom, including lines from the Declaration of Independence and the quill that the founding fathers used to sign it.

New $100 Bill: It's All About the Benjamins

When the new notes are issued next February, no one should worry about using or trading in their old $100 bills -- the 6.5 billion older-design $100 bills currently in circulation will still be good.

To coincide with the remake, the government has launched a global education campaign to inform users about the changes before the new bill starts circulating. Since an estimated two-thirds of all $100 notes circulate outside the United States, educating a global audience is a crucial job for the government.

"A well informed public is our first and best line of defense against counterfeiting," Bernanke said.

The government's first step in informing the public was planned as a new website, www.newmoney.gov, complete with a clock counting down the time until the note's unveiling this morning. But when the time finally came for the grand online unveiling this morning, the website suddenly crashed.

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