Article written by:
Karen Janota, AAP, BSACS, CUCE
Manager, Assurance & Business Advisory Services
On April 20, 2020, the Secret Service, in partnership with the U.S. Department of the Treasury (Treasury), issued guidance to help consumers, retailers and financial institutions detect counterfeit Treasury checks by knowing what to look for and where to look.
The announcement comes as millions of Americans receive their economic impact payment checks, which are being issued pursuant to the CARES Act. While over 80 million Americans received their economic impact payment checks via direct deposit to their bank accounts, millions of Americans are waiting for paper checks that will be mailed in accordance with a preset schedule beginning the end of April 2020.
The Secret Service and the Treasury guidance outlines the following six “Quick Tips/Genuine Security Features” that a person receiving, accepting or cashing the economic impact payment check should look for:
- Treasury Seal: There is a new Treasury seal to the right of the Statue of Liberty. The new seal should read “Bureau of the Fiscal Service” and it replaces the old seal that read “Financial Management Service (FMS)”.
- Bleeding Ink: When moisture is applied to the black ink on the seal next to the Statue of Liberty, the ink will “run” and turn red.
- Watermark: All Treasury checks are printed on watermarked paper. The watermark reads “U.S. TREASURY” and can be seen from both front and back when held up to a light source.
- Ultraviolet Overprinting: Invisible to the naked eye, a “protective ultraviolet overprinting” (UV) pattern is on the paper check. It consists of lines of “FMS” bracketed on the left by the FMS seal and on the right by the U.S. Seal (eagle). As of 2013, a new ultraviolet pattern was introduced into the check that says ‘FISCALSERVICE.’ Either one of these UV patterns maybe be seen.
- Microprinting: The back of the check is microprinted with the words “USAUSAUSA”.
- Economic Impact Payment: Printed on the lower right side of the Statue of Liberty will be the following information: “Economic Impact Payment President Donald J. Trump.”
Anyone who believes they may have a counterfeit economic impact payment check is urged to contact local law enforcement, a Secret Service field office, or the Treasury. The guidance can be accessed here.