Albany ALBANY — It’s the holiday season and the stores are jammed. With some fancy juggling of your Christmas packages you manage to snag the $20 bill you receive in change and slip it to your purse or wallet. Later in the day, you slow down for a cup of coffee.
“I’m sorry,” says the clerk behind the counter, as he hands you back the bill. “This one’s no good.”
It’s the time of year counterfeiters prey on both cashiers distracted by long lines, and consumers juggling purchases and shopping lists, according to a special holiday warning issued by the Albany Resident Office of the U.S. Secret Service.
“Technology has forever changed the way we do business, making everyday financial transactions a prime target for fraud,” said Billy Joe Powers, Albany Resident Office resident in charge, in a recent press release. “The Secret Service, in conjunction with its many law enforcement partners, continues to successfully combat these crimes by adapting our investigative methodologies and educating the public.”
In addition to using special care to be certain bills are genuine, Powers said that retailers and consumers should be mindful of criminals attempting to steal or use stolen credit cards or store gift cards.
The Secret Service warns consumers never to provide personal information over the phone or Internet to anyone contacting them through “phishing” scams. According to the Service, no credit card company or bank will ever contact their customers to verify personal information.
A questionable bill of any denomination should display the proper watermark, the Secret Service warns, as well as the proper security thread within the bill.
To assist retailers and consumers in separating real from bogus bills, the Secret Service recommends “Know Your Money,” http://www.secretservice.gov/know_your_money.shtml and www.moneyfactory.gov (Bureau of Engraving and Printing website). In addition, the website, www.ftc.gov can provide information on identity protection and obtaining victim assistance. The Albany Resident Office of the U.S. Secret Service can be reached at (229) 430-8442.