ATLANTA – Criminals often use the active holiday season to prey on unsuspecting victims for their own financial gain. During the holidays, cashiers can be distracted by long lines while consumers may be unmindful of their transactions when juggling purchases. These common errors open the door for both unauthorized credit card transactions and passing and receiving counterfeit currency.
"Technology has forever changed the way we do business, making everyday financial transactions a prime target for fraud," said Reginald G. Moore, special agent in charge of the U.S. Secret Service Atlanta field office. "The Secret Service, in conjunction with our many law enforcement partners, continues to successfully combat these crimes by adapting our investigative methodologies and educating the public."
Retailers and consumers should be wary of criminals attempting to steal or use stolen credit cards, credit card numbers or store gift cards. Retailers should continue to actively compare credit card signatures with photo IDs. Likewise, shoppers should visually inspect their currency before walking away from store registers or bank tellers. Consumers should carefully scrutinize card transactions and statements to ensure their cards have not been compromised.
If a retailer or consumer suspects a bill is counterfeit, they should compare the bill to a note of the same series and denomination that is known to be genuine. The note in question should display the proper watermark as well as the proper security thread that is consistent with that denomination. To help avoid becoming a victim of identity fraud, the best advice is to never provide personal information over the phone or the Internet to anyone that contacts you. No credit card company or bank will ever contact you to verify your information.
The following resources contain valuable information on how to detect counterfeit notes by identifying the security features that are embedded within U.S. currency: Know Your Money, www.secretservice.gov/know_your_money.shtml and www.moneyfactory.gov (Bureau of Engraving and Printing's website). In addition, the following website contains information on how to protect your identity as well as how to obtain victim assistance: www.ftc.gov.