General Question

elbanditoroso's avatar

What is the rationale in 2019 for serial numbers on US currency?

Asked by elbanditoroso (27122points) 4 days ago

These are printed alphanumeric characters on all your $1, $2, $5, $10, $20, $50, and $100 dollar bills.

Barcodes might make some sense for tracking. But just letters and numbers – no one is going to type those in for any reason.

Why do we still have serial numbers on dollar bills?

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10 Answers

SEKA's avatar

They can still be tracked down to who is holding them at the moment

elbanditoroso's avatar

@SEKA but who is doing the tracking? Who or what agency is copying down serial numbers? I know what can possibly happen, I am wondering if it is actually being done.

SEKA's avatar

That’s classified. If I tell you I’ll have to kill you

zenvelo's avatar

One reason is to deter counterfeiters. Identical serial numbers reveal a bill as fake, even if otherwise a very good copy. To replicate on fake currency would require an additional printing.

elbanditoroso's avatar

@zenvelo I agree, but to detect duplicates you have to be tracking the numbers in the first place. That’s my point – who is tracking the numbers on a day by day basis?

If I used a $10 bill AM939878588M at the gas station today, and you use a duplicate AM939878588M at Target tonight – how is it determined that it’s a duplicate?

LadyMarissa's avatar

Most of our currency has a metal strip that records the serial number & the bank keeps a record of any duplicates.It’s all computer generated & NO person is sitting in the back room recording the SN’s.

zenvelo's avatar

@elbanditoroso But if you get stopped by police and you have three bills all with the same serial #, busted!

Darth_Algar's avatar

@elbanditoroso “If I used a $10 bill AM939878588M at the gas station today, and you use a duplicate AM939878588M at Target tonight – how is it determined that it’s a duplicate?”

That’s unlikely to be detected. But a person passing around multiple bills with the same SN will be spotted fairly quick.

Inspired_2write's avatar

I worked in a Bank and part of the job was to keep a note of the serial numbers start and end of a bundle that was placed into a automatic counter then noted on the bundles before placed into the vaults.
The letters signify the series.

dabbler's avatar

It’s not harder to machine-read a serial number printed in a font that is desinged to be machine-readable than it is to read a barcode or QR code.
The Treasury collect age data about the bills to understand durability. The age can determine in some cases whether a bill will get cleaned up and sent back out or get destroyed. There are probably lots of other things tracked to help normal flows of paper bills between regions etc.

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