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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Dollar Revamped to Foil Hi-Tech Crooks

WASHINGTON -- The dollar is in for its biggest face-lift in 65 years.The U.S. Treasury Department unveiled plans Wednesday for a major overhaul of the greenback's design in a bid to foil a new breed of sophisticated counterfeiters who use hi-tech printers and copiers to pump out millions of dollars' worth of bogus notes.

Among other things, the Treasury is considering the use of an enlarged, off-center portrait on each denomination and a matching watermark on the side of the bill. Other features also authorized for testing and development involve changes in the paper and inks used. They include:

?an enhanced "security thread" that cannot be reproduced in the reflected light of a copier;

?iridescent inks that change color when viewed from different angles;

?tiny microprinting in the currency's design as well as on the colored pieces of tissue paper embedded in the paper.

The new bills are expected to be in the hands of the public starting in 1996.

"Our plan ... is a pre-emptive step to protect U.S. currency from hi-tech counterfeiting," Treasury Secretary Lloyd Bentsen said in a statement. "This initiative was not undertaken as a result of a crisis or because of any meaningful threat from a particular source."

The Treasury expects the production design -- which has been a closely guarded secret until now -- to be finalised in 1995. It expects to issue newly designed $100 bills a year later. The government does not plan to recall or invalidate the existing currency.

Aside from the $100 bill, the changes will cover the other five bills now in production: the $50, $20, $10, $5 and $1 notes.

The growing availability of high-quality color copiers, scanners and computer-based printers has made the dollar more vulnerable to counterfeiting, both in this country and abroad.

Officials stressed that there is no immediate threat. But they warned that without changes, the buck risks being overtaken by new technology.

"We must take steps now in order to address a threat that will increase as technology improves," Treasury Under Secretary Frank Newman told a House Banking Committee hearing, where the plans were disclosed.

The currency's appearance has changed little since the 1920s. The main design was standardized in 1929 to include uniform portraits and random security fibers. And the note was cut about two centimeters in height and more than two centimeters in length.

The last change was in 1991. The government introduced a "security thread" and microprinting to the $100 bill to guard against counterfeiting by sophisticated copiers and printers.