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Henry libraries change cash-handling procedures

By Valerie Baldowski

vbaldowski@henryherald.com

Counterfeit money has made its way into the Henry County Library System, which has responded with new procedures for accepting cash.

During the March 1 Henry County Library Board of Trustees meeting, board members voted to approve the system's new procedures for handling cash -- and counterfeit money.

The library system first discovered counterfeit money in its bank account earlier this year. Each occurrence costs the system money, said Carolyn Fuller, director of the library system in Henry County.

"All businesses, now, are encountering problems with receiving counterfeit money, as well as bad checks," said Fuller. "You wouldn't think people would give counterfeit money to the library, but they do."

The new procedures, which are already being used by many other businesses, became effective immediately. They involve the use of special "counterfeit-marking pens," and a process of checking each bill for authenticity, Fuller said.

The pens are used to make a mark on the bill in question. If the mark turns dark, the bill is probably counterfeit. If the mark is light in color, Fuller said, the bill is probably legitimate. All library employees have been trained on the new procedures, she added.

"When we get counterfeit money, it comes out of our deposit," said Fuller. "The bank calls the Secret Service, and they come and get it. We're not talking about large sums of money, so a counterfeit $20 bill hurts."

She said criminals, sometimes, bleach the bills to try and remove the original markings, then try to reprint them with a higher denomination. When that happens, there is still a trace of the original image barely visible, which shows through the counterfeit markings.

Library employees can hold the bills up to a bright light to determine if there are signs of tampering with the original markings on the bills, said Fuller.

Library patrons occasionally pay for late fees, photocopies, and computer printouts using counterfeit bills, according to Fuller. Most patrons, who give the library counterfeit money, are unaware they possessed it, she said, because they received it from another source.

The library system takes in an average total of about $500 per week from its five branches. The revenue collected is regularly deposited in the system's bank account to pay for operating expenses and purchases, said Fuller. A counterfeit $20 bill finding its way into the legitimate money deposited into the account makes a big difference, she said.